Monthly Archives: April 2012

Eyes on the Sky: April 30 thru May 6

Eyes on the Sky: April 30 thru May 6

Venus at brightest; a celestial time trip(let)

Venus will be taking center stage in about a month when it transits across the face of the Sun for the last time in 105 years.  But it manages to steal the spotlight by outshining everything else in the sky except the Sun and the Moon.  Learn how to spot its phases with a a telescope, or catch the brilliant planet’s dazzling glow near a fairly bright star in Taurus, which will look quite dim in comparison.

Later in the week, the nearly Full Moon glides by Saturn and Spica.  These three objects are vastly different distances from each other, and contemplating the time differences of light from each is a pretty cool exercise to consider.  Use a telescope to spot Saturn’s rings.  Wishing you clear and dark skies!

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How to find the Winter Hexagon

Introduction

Orion is the key for
cracking the winter sky

The winter sky is an excellent place to begin exploring the constellations that make up the night sky. Orion is the key, or signpost, for locating many of the other constellations in the winter sky. There are two convenient ways to locate all of the main constellations around Orion once Orion is located. Fortunately, Orion is easy to locate and well known to most people.

The first way is to follow lines made by pairs of stars in Orion. The second way is to locate the great winter hexagon of bright star around Orion.

The Constellations of the Winter Sky

If you live in the northern latitudes and you scan the sky from the southern horizon to the region overhead, you should be able to see the following constellations on a clear winter night: Orion the Hunter, Canis Major the Great Dog, Canis Minor the Little Dog, Taurus the Bull, Auriga the Charioteer, Gemini the Twins and the Pleiades star cluster. (See the map on the next page).

 In Greek mythology, Orion was a great hunter who eventually offended the gods, especially Apollo. Apollo tricked Artemis, the Goddess of the hunt, into shooting Orion on a bet. When she discovered that she had shot Orion, she quickly lifted him to the heavens and made him immortal, where he now hunts eternally with his two dogs, Canis Major and Canis Minor. In front of him is his prey Taurus the Bull.

 The myths surrounding Auriga the Charioteer vary, but it is an ancient constellation dating back to at least to the Ancient Greeks. Some say Auriga invented the chariot and others that he trained horses for the best chariots.

 Gemini is a constellation made up of two stick figures known as the twins, Castor, who was a great horseman, and Pollux, who was a great boxer. According to one myth, Castor and Pollux (a.k.a. Polydeuces) were the sons of Zeus and Leda (from Leda and the Swan) and were hatched from an egg. Their sister was the beautiful Helen whose face launched a thousand ships to do battle in front the Trojan city of Troy.

Method 1: Using Pairs of Stars in Orion as a Guide

Finding Sirius and Canis Major

If you follow a line from the belt stars of Orion to the left and slightly down, you will come across a very bright star called Sirius, which is also known as the Dog Star. (See the arrows in the diagram to the right).

Sirius is the brightest star in the night sky so it is hard to miss. Once you’ve located Sirius you can locate the other stars in the constellation Canis Major the Great Dog.

Finding Procyon and Canis Minor

Follow the a line from the shoulder stars of Orion to the left. The first bright star that you will come close to is Procyon, which resides in Canis Minor.

From there you should be able to see the other star that us easily visible. Together, the two stars make up the constellation Canis Minor, which is also known as the Little Dog. Along with Canis Major, Canis Minor follows Orion across the heavens on an eternal hunt.

Finding Aldebaran and Taurus

Following the belt stars to the right, you will pass just below the bright star Aldebaran and through the constellation Taurus, which is also known as the Bull.

Continuing on you will run across a fuzzy blur of stars closely grouped. These are the Pleiades, or the Seven Sisters.

Finding Capella and Auriga

Follow the bottom most star on the left and the left most belt star upwards (going roughly over your head) and you will come across a very bright star called Capella. From Capella, you can follow the pentagon of brighter stars nearby that make up Auriga. Just below Capella, there is a triangle of stars known as ‘the kids’ as in goat babies.

Capella was one of the most important stars for navigation as it could be seen throughout most of the year from mid northern latitudes.

Finding the Twins Castor and Pollux

Follow a line from Rigel to Betelgeuse heading upwards and overhead. You will come to two rough sticks of stars that are headed by two brighter stars. This is the constellation Gemini, composed of the twins Pollux and Castor. Pollux is on the left and Castor is on the right.

Method 1: Using the Winter Hexagon Centered About Orion

If you look in around the sky centered on Orion, you should be able to see a rough hexagon of very bright stars. This is called the Winter Hexagon. Starting at Rigel, if you go counterclockwise by one, you end up at Aldebaran in Taurus. Go counterclockwise once more and you end up at Capella in Auriga. Go counterclockwise once more and you end up at the pair of stars Pollux and Castor in Gemini. Go counterclockwise once more and you end up at Procyon in Canis Minor. Finally, if you go counterclockwise once more you end up at Sirius in Canis Major.

Credits: http://www.science-teachers.com

Global Star Party

28 April 2012


Be sure to reserve Saturday, April 28th, for GAM’s ultimate observing event: the Global Star Party.  Of course, it’s B.Y.O.T. – Bring Your Own Telescope – but encourage even those who don’t have one to come anyway. All are invited, all will be excited.  It is amazing that when we turn our gaze upward all religious, national, cultural and political barriers fade into the darkness.  April 28th is the time to come out under the stars, bridge gaps across the seas, and join your brother and sister skywatchers in proving that the world is, in fact, “One People, One Sky.”

 

Start Early and Follow Up
Not just the 28th, of course, but the whole month of April is dedicated to the science, art, and culture of astronomy, so plan to take your hobby to the streets as often as you can.  Club members need to “divide and conquer” their community on every corner. Get events scheduled and supported by your community’s science centers, planetariums, and science museums.  Spearhead new ways of outreach to convalescent hospitals, rest homes, military bases, busy sections of town, and libraries.  Be ready to accommodate handicapped visitors to your scopes, including those in wheel chairs.  Be on top of your game with lectures, presentations, exhibits, telescope demonstrations, handouts, and star charts—and be ready to dazzle them with fun facts (not boring ones) about the objects you have captured in your eyepiece.


Begin with the Sun
You can build momentum by scheduling events not just in the evening but during the day as well.  Spark interest in our number one star, the Sun, by planning an Astronomy Day at the park with picnic.  And, of course, invite all your daytime guests to your Global Star Party in the evening.  Contact your local observatory—they may be happy to work with you to have a big, all-day astronomy event on their grounds.


Publicize Your Events

But the public won’t know about your Global Star Party unless you get the word out.  Local weekly newspapers are very receptive to running news items about events like this, and if you can give them a well-written story that has a catchy news angle in it, you may get not just a small announcement but a feature article.  Also, if your city or town has a public radio station, they will likely be happy to announce your event—perhaps including an interview with you.


Use Your Creativity
Other than the set date—Saturday, April 28th local time—there is no formal agenda.  Amateur astronomers have proven to be incredibly creative when organizing events, so we encourage you to show us what you can do!  We do, however, encourage everyone to expand the time beyond the regular evening events—starting early with solar activities and continuing until late evening.
Everyone should choose the activities that fit their community and personal preference.  We are encouraging everyone to think in new directions and try new methods of outreach, but want everyone to be comfortable in their choice of events.
Be sure to register you event with AWB online and to come back afterwards and fill out your event reports and post your photos.  We all want to see what our friends around the world are doing!

Some Program Idea

  • Visit a military base, retirement hotel, or children’s hospital and give those able a chance to see the Universe up close.
  • Have a club member dress up as a famous astronomer from history.
  • Find ways to attract attention – your own version of 100HA’s Camel Cart!
  • Use our resources page to get the materials to accommodate the seeing impaired.
  • Host “How Telescopes Work” demonstrations and put your ATM guys to work with mirror grinding demos and use some of that extra glass to let the public try.
  • Hold events outside of art galleries or musical events.
  • Surround a shopping mall or city park with telescopes at every corner or entrance.
  • Hold astropoetry events, such as a public poetry reading at a library.
  • Get a local scout or school group to assist at your star party—have the youngsters ask questions, provide information, and even help run the scope.
  • Have an “artists table” set up so that younger observers can make and take their own souvenirs of the event.
  • Work with a local library to have book displays set up near the telescope so that people can learn more.
  • Work with another club in a different country and set up an internet connection so that those attending your event can connect with others doing the same thing at the same time in a different part of the world.
  • Live-stream your event on Ustream.

 

Share your Star Party experience with us:

Share your Global Star Party images with us via GAM2012 Facebook or Flickr group or Tweet using #GAM2012 hashtag (@gam_awb). Don’t forget to register your events here.

 

The winter hexagon v/s the summer hexagon?

Credits : Winter hexagon - Felgari

The winter hexagon is not a constellation but simply an asterism. But when there’s winter in the Northern Hemisphere, its summer in the Southern Hemisphere. I find it really unfair for the world to call this set of stars as the winter hexagon. Why don’t call it the summer hexagon? Frankly speaking I feel like being discriminated on belonging from the Southern Hemisphere.

Winter Hexagon from the Tropics

I understand that development in the astronomy field knew its leap in the Northern Hemisphere, but still I am hereby campaigning for a change in the name of this asterism ( I know Asterisms are not even officially recognized names). But the “winter hexagon” It is a complete misnomer. When I first got to see this beautiful set of constellations in its entirety by the seaside, I was feeling hot. One as it was a breezeless night, hot and damp. Secondly for the utter pleasure of being able to identify the hexagon which covered almost ¼ the portion of the sky and being able to identify six constellations in one go.  It was awesome.

But Do you Know How to find the winter hexagon?

One could ask it’s already April and the spring is already here, so why talk about the winter hexagon? It’s just because the winter hexagon in a few months would not remain in our skies. During January at dusk I would have to raise up my head towards the zenith to see the Orion as it would highlight our north western skies, but now in April it’s already halfway between the horizon and the zenith towards the west at dusk. And to tell you Scorpion is already on its way. (Hope you know about the Scorpion – Orion saga) So to say in a few months Orion would be no more on the skies. (I would miss Orion a lot)

And as April is here, it would be a lovely time to appreciate the nature in its bloom and a have good time to observe the night sky. No more shivering and complaining about the chilly weather to have a look at the sky (for my friends of the Northern Hemisphere). As for us Mauritians, we have only two seasons per se. Our hot humid summer is already gone and we are slowly entering the winter phase.

So, if you feel being discriminated by pronouncing the Winter Hexagon, (or any other misnamed constellation or asterism) then campaign with me for this misnomer. Together, united we can change the name of this marvelous hexagon to a common name. Because as the saying goes “the sky has no borders, it is for everyone”. (Is it really a saying or I just made it up?). I suppose I got it from The Astronomers without borders. They have their motto as One people, One Sky.

Related Articles:

How to find the winter hexagon

Eyes on the Sky: Apr 23 thru Apr 29

Eyes on the Sky: Apr 23 thru Apr 29

Luna splits Beauty and the Bull; an eye on Cor Caroli

Early this week, the Moon splits some well-known star clusters, and visits the brightest planet.  Don’t miss the interesting take on earthshine, as the time it takes for light to reach your eye from the Moon really can vary by several seconds, even while looking at the same Moon!

Close to overhead this time of year just south of the Big Dipper, and therefore visible from most any location for stargazing – even in cities – is the small constellation Canes Venatici, which harbors some great objects that can be spotted with simple binoculars or small telescopes.  Cor Caroli, the star named after England’s Charles 1, is a central highlight of this week’s video.  Wishing you clear and dark skies!

My Top 20 Guideposts in the Sky

Number

Common
Name

Constellation

Apparent
Magnitude

Spectral
Type

Luminosity
(Sun = 1)

Distance
(Light Years)

Radial
Velocity
(km / sec)

1 Sirius Canis Major -1.46 A1 26 8.7 -8
2 Canopus Carina -0.72 F0 15,000 310 +21
3 Alpha
Centauri
Centaurus -0.04 G2 1.7 4.3 -22
4 Arcturus Boötis 0.00 K2 115 36 -5
5 Vega Lyra 0.03 A0 52 25 -14
6 Capella Auriga 0.08 G8 F0 90 70 43 +30
7 Rigel Orion 0.12 B8 60,000 910 +21
8 Procyon Canis Minor 0.38 F5 7 11.4 -3
9 Achernar Eridanus 0.46 B5 400 85 +19
10 Betelgeux Orion 0.0 – 0.9 M2 105,000 v 640 +21
11 Agena Centaurus 0.61 B1 10,000 460 -11
12 Altair Aquila 0.77 A7 10 16.6 -26
13 Acrux Crux Australis 0.83 B1 3,200 360 -11
14 Aldebaran Taurus 0.85 K5 120 68 +54
15 Antares Scorpius 0.96 M1 7,500 330 -3
16 Spica Virgo 0.98 B1 2,100 260 +1
17 Pollux Gemini 1.14 K0 60 36 +3
18 Fomalhaut Piscis Australis 1.16 A3 13 22 +7
19 Deneb Cygnus 1.25 A2 70,000 1,800 -5
20 Becrux Crux Australis 1.25 B0 8,200 425 +20

Explanation

Number

This is a list of the 20 brightest stars as seen from the Earth (not including the Sun). The stars are numbered from 1 to 20 in sequence.

Common Name

This is the name by which the star is commonly known. The names are Greek, Latin or Arabic. This web site is based in London: stars not visible from London are in red.

Some examples of the names: Deneb is Latin for tail (because it marks the tail of The Swan – Cygnus); Antares is Greek for rival of Mars (because of its red colour); Aldebaran is Arabic for eye of the bull (because it marks the eye of The Bull – Taurus).

Constellation

A constellation is a star group (as seen from Earth) that the star is a part of. Constellations are human inventions. The stars in them appear in the same part of the sky but are, in fact, at different distances from us and not related to each other. Different cultures use different constellations. For more, read Astronomy and Astrology.

In the West, there are 88 recognised constellations; 48 of these date from Roman times and are known as the Classical Constellations. These include the 12 Zodiac constellations through which the Sun, Moon and planets always pass through. Constellations are always known by their Latin names.

Some examples: Canis Major means The Great Dog; Orion is The Hunter; Crux Australis means The Southern Cross.

Constellations are used by astronomers for convenience. We say that Sirius is in Canis Major rather than give its celestial coordinates.

Apparent Magnitude

Apparent Magnitude tells how bright the star is as seen from the Earth. The magnitude scale was devised by the Ancient Greeks. The brightest stars were called First Magnitude, the next brightest were called Second Magnitude, etc.

In modern times, the scale has been defined mathematically. A star of magnitude 1 is about 2.5 times brighter than a star of magnitude 2 which in turn is 2.5 times brighter than a star of magnitude 3. The brighter a star, the smaller its magnitude. Many stars are brighter than first magnitude. Some stars are so bright they have negative magnitudes. On this scale, Jupiter has a magnitude (at its brightest) of -2.6, Venus is at -4.4 and the Sun -27. The faintest stars visible to the naked eye are sixth magnitude. Pluto has a magnitude of +14, far too faint to be visible without a powerful telescope.

In the table it can be seen that Betelgeux varies its magnitude – some stars are variable in brightness.

The brightness of a star as seen from Earth depends on its intrinsic luminosity and its distance from Earth. A dim star may appear bright because it is close while a luminous star may appear faint because it is far away. This is why we say Apparent Magnitude.

Spectral Type

When starlight is passed through a prism, it splits into its constituent colours, like a rainbow. This is called the star’s Spectrum. Stellar spectra are crossed by dark lines. These lines give astronomers a lot of information about the star: temperature, luminosity, radius, magnetic properties, movement. Read The Electromagnetic Spectrum for more on spectra.

The Morgan-Keenan spectral classification

The Morgan-Keenan spectral classification (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Stellar spectra are classified into types. These types are given letters. The spectral type series is a temperature series. Moving from the hottest stars to the coolest, the series of letters runs O, B, A, F, G, K, M.

Each spectral type is subdivided into ten numbers. For example, A0, A1, A2, up to A9. A0 is hotter than A1. The table below gives more information.

Spectral
Type

Colour

Surface
Temperature
(°C)

O

Blue >30,000

B

Blue-White 20,000

A

White 10,000

F

Yellow-White 7,000

G

Yellow 6,000

K

Orange 4,500

M

Red 3,000

Our Sun is a star of Spectral Type G2 with a surface temperature of around 6,000°C.

Luminosity

This tells us how much more energy and light the star gives off compared with the Sun. This is how bright the star really is once distance has been taken into account. There is a huge variety in the luminosity of the stars. At one extreme, the star Alpha Centauri is 1.7 times more luminous than the Sun. At the other extreme, Canopus is 15,000 times more luminous than our Sun.

Luminosity can be measured indirectly by combining the apparent brightness of a star with its distance. It can also sometimes be measured directly from the spectrum.

Distance

The distance of a star is given in Light Years. This is the distance covered by a light beam in one year. Light travels at 300,000 km per second (186,000 miles per second). In one year a beam of light will travel 9.4 million million km (5.9 million million miles). This enormous distance is a Light Year.

Many stellar distances can be measured directly by trigonometry. As the Earth moves around the Sun, the star appears to shift its position against more distant stars. This effect is called parallax. It is a tiny effect but can be measured. The amount of the parallax depends on the diameter of the Earth’s orbit around the Sun (just under 300 million km or 186 million miles) and the distance to the star. A star with a paralax of 1 second of arc (written 1″) is said to be at a distace of 1 Parsec. 1 Parsec is equal to 3.26 Light Years.

Other stars can have their luminosity measured by their spectra or by other properties. When this is compared to their apparent brightness, a distance can be calculated.

For more on astronomical distances look at The Scale Of The Universe.

Radial Velocity

This the velocity of the star relative to the Sun. Negative velocities denote a star moving towards the Solar System. Positive velocities are for stars moving away from us.

Radial velocity is easily measured by looking at the star’s spectrum. The lines on the spectrum are shifted to the blue end if the star is moving towards us (the so-called blue shift) and to the red end if the star is moving away from us (red shift). The amount of this shift depends on the relative velocity between us and the star.

Credits: http://www.krysstal.com/brightest.html

(heavenswithlamps.wordpress.com)

What is Starhopping?

The night sky is replete with so many wonders. These wonders need just our eyes to be seen. One way to become familiar with the beautiful night sky is by Star-hopping.

In this digital age we are so engrossed with our daily lives that we don’t get to feed our souls. The best way to find a perspective in our meaningless lives is to have a look at the great wonders of the night sky.

But…..if you are not familiar with the sky, your first experience would be just like gazing to a thousands of dots on a big, very big black roof. So to solve this we are going to learn star-hopping.

Star-hopping is a great technique to identify where stars are.

First of all you have to identify your guideposts, (stars which are bright enough to indicate where less brighter stars are)and then once you have found them, you start star hopping.

It’s the same as you jump, jump and jump.

Yeah, you jump with your feet but here you do it with your eyes. That’s why I call it “eye jump”

Benefits of Star hopping

Star-hopping really is awesome. Believe me finding even one constellation out of the 88 constellations or an asterism is purely fascinating. This allows you not only to recognize the patterns of constellations, but in the process….let it be even a life-time…..you’re also learning about star distances, star colours, ages and names.

“You’ll find that the whole of the night sky is an amazing mixture of space, time, history, science and world cultures. It’ll lead you off on all sorts of paths and you’ll learn things that will amaze others. Not to mention the basic reason – you’ll know what you’re looking at.”

 Credits: September 2008 issue of Sky at Night Magazine

Orion the hunter

(credit: NASA).

Orion, the Hunter

In our summer skies (Southern Hemisphere –Mauritius, in the Northern Hemiphere it is Winter), just have a look towards the west, you would find the three stars aligned – these three are the Orion’s belt. This is the easiest to find.

The two stars north of this are Orion’s shoulders. One of these is Betelgeuse (“BEETLE-juice”), which is a giant red star. The two brighter stars to the south are Orion, the hunter’s legs. The bright blue star is Rigel.

Ancient people used Orion to predict the seasons: If it appeared at midnight, the grapes were ready to harvest. If it appeared in the morning, summer was beginning. If it appeared in the evening, winter had arrived.
In the photo below, as we can see, we have already identified seven bright stars. Now taking them as guide-posts, we can find your way to other stars and constellations too. You just have to find your way to them by imagining your straight lines and gradually hopping from one star to another. Quite easy, you see.

seven bright stars in orion

Is it necessary to star hop to understand the sky?

We are living in the digital age of electronic star charts, easy planetarium softwares on our laptops, star apps on Ipads and stars in our palms or GO TO telescopes where with only a push of a button one can travel from the Lunar neighborhood to the far reaches of deep space in just a few seconds.

Orion-SkyQuest-Computerized-Dobsonian-Telescope

Despite all of this easily available technology, many star gazers and amateur astronomers prefer doing their night observing without the use of GO TO telescopes, and truely speaking star hopping is the best way to have a complete grip on the night sky.

So  go star-hopping, the night sky is waiting to be seen.

100 Guide Posts in the Sky

 
The following list contains the 100 brightest stars as seen from the earth at night. The information on magnitudes is taken from data obtained by the Hipparcos Satellite Catalog. Distance measurements are from the Observer’s Handbook 2001, by The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.

Common Name

Astronomical Name

Meaning

Apparent Magnitude

Absolute Magnitude

Distance (light-years)

1

Sirius Alpha Canis Majoris Greek: “scorching”

-1.44

1.45

9

2

Canopus Alpha Carinae Greek: pilot of the ship Argo

-0.62

-5.53

313

3

Arcturus Alpha Bootis Greek: “guardian of the bear”

-0.05

-0.31

37

4

Rigel Kentaurus Alpha Centauri Arabic: “foot of the centaur”

-0.01

4.34

4

5

Vega Alpha Lyrae Arabic: eagle or vulture

0.03

0.58

25

6

Capella Alpha Aurigae Latin: “little she-goat”

0.08

-0.48

42

7

Rigel Beta Orionis Arabic: “foot”

0.18

-6.69

773

8

Procyon Alpha Canis Minoris Greek: “before the dog”

0.40

2.68

11

9

Betelgeuse Alpha Orionis Arabic: “armpit of the great one”

0.45

-5.14

522

10

Achernar Alpha Eridani Arabic: “river’s end”

0.45

-2.77

144

11

Hadar (Agena) Beta Centauri Arabic: “ground” (Latin: “knee”)

0.61

-5.42

526

12

Altair Alpha Aquilae Arabic: “the eagle”

0.76

2.20

17

13

Acrux Alpha Crucis Greek: comb. of alpha crux

0.77

-4.19

321

14

Aldebaran Alpha Tauri Arabic: “the follower”

0.87

-0.63

65

15

Spica Alpha Virginis Latin: ear of wheat

0.98

-3.55

262

16

Antares Alpha Scorpii Greek: rival of Mars

1.06

-5.28

604

17

Pollux Beta Geminorum Greek: immortal Gemini twin brother

1.16

1.09

34

18

Formalhaut Alpha Piscis Austrini Arabic: “the mouth of the fish”

1.17

1.74

25

19

Deneb Alpha Cygni Arabic: “tail”

1.25

-8.73

1467

20

Mimosa Beta Crucis Latin: “actor”

1.25

-3.92

352

21

Regulus Alpha Leonis Greek: “little king”

1.36

-0.52

77

22

Adhara Epsilon Canis Majoris Arabic: “the virgins”

1.50

-4.10

431

23

Castor Alpha Geminorum Greek: mortal Gemini twin brother

1.58

0.59

52

24

Gacrux Gamma Crucis Greek: comb. of gamma and crux

1.59

-0.56

88

25

Shaula Lambda Scorpii Arabic: “stinger”

1.62

-5.05

359

26

Bellatrix Gamma Orionis Greek: an Amazon warrior

1.64

-2.72

243

27

Alnath Beta Tauri Arabic: “the butting one”

1.65

-1.37

131

28

Miaplacidus Beta Carinae Arabic/Latin: “peaceful waters”

1.67

-0.99

111

29

Alnilam Epsilon Orionis Arabic: “string of pearls”

1.69

-6.38

1342

30

Alnair Alpha Gruis Arabic: “the bright one”

1.73

-0.73

101

31

Alnitak Zeta Orionis Arabic: “the girdle”

1.74

-5.26

817

32

Regor Gamma Velorum unknown

1.75

-5.31

840

33

Alioth Epsilon Ursae Majoris Arabic: “the bull”

1.76

-0.21

81

34

Kaus Australis Epsilon Sagittarii Arabic/Latin: “southern part of the bow”

1.79

-1.44

145

35

Mirphak Alpha Persei Arabic: “elbow”

1.79

-4.50

592

36

Dubhe Alpha Ursae Majoris Arabic: “bear”

1.81

-1.08

124

37

Wezen Delta Canis Majoris Arabic: “weight”

1.83

-6.87

1791

38

Alkaid Eta Ursae Majoris Arabic: chief of the mourners

1.85

-0.60

101

39

Sargas Theta Scorpii Sumerian: “scorpion”

1.86

-2.75

272

40

Avior Epsilon Carinae unknown

1.86

-4.58

632

41

Menkalinan Beta Aurigae Arabic: “shoulder of the rein-holder”

1.90

-0.10

82

42

Atria Alpha Trianguli Australis Greek/English: combination of alpha and triangle

1.91

-3.62

415

43

Delta Velorum Delta Velorum Bayer designation*

1.93

-0.01

80

44

Alhena Gamma Geminorum Arabic: “the mark” on the right side of a camel’s neck

1.93

-0.60

105

45

Peacock Alpha Pavonis English: Peacock

1.94

-1.81

183

46

Polaris Alpha Ursae Minoris Latin: pole star

1.97

-3.64

431

47

Mirzam Beta Canis Majoris Arabic: “herald”

1.98

-3.95

499

48

Alphard Alpha Hydrae Arabic: “the solitary one”

1.99

-1.69

177

49

Algieba Gamma Leonis Arabic: “the forehead”

2.01

-0.92

126

50

Hamal Alpha Arietis Arabic: “lamb”

2.01

0.48

66

51

Deneb Kaitos Beta Ceti Arabic/Greek: “tail of the sea monster”

2.04

-0.30

96

52

Nunki Sigma Sagittarii ancient Babylonian name

2.05

-2.14

224

53

Merkent Theta Centauri Arabic: “in the shoulder of the centaur”

2.06

0.70

61

54

Saiph Kappa Orionis Arabic: “sword”

2.07

-4.65

815

55

Alpheratz Alpha Andromedae Arabic: “horse’s shoulder”

2.07

-0.30

97

56

Beta Gruis Beta Gruis Bayer designation*

2.07

-1.52

170

57

Mirach Beta Andromedae Arabic: “girdle”

2.07

-1.86

199

58

Kochab Beta Ursae Minoris Arabic: unknown meaning

2.07

-0.87

126

59

Rasalhague Alpha Ophiuchi Arabic: “head of the serpent-charmer”

2.08

1.30

47

60

Algol Beta Persei Arabic: “the demon’s head”

2.09

-0.18

93

61

Almaak Gamma Andromedae Arabic: type of small, predatory animal in Arabia

2.10

-3.08

355

62

Denebola Beta Leonis Arabic: “lion’s tail”

2.14

1.92

36

63

Cih Gamma Cassiopeiae Chinese: “whip”

2.15

-4.22

613

64

Muliphain Gamma Centauri Arabic: “oath”

2.20

-0.81

130

65

Naos Zeta Puppis Greek: “ship”

2.21

-5.95

1399

66

Tureis Iota Carinae Arabic: an ornament on a ship’s stern

2.21

-4.42

694

67

Alphecca (Gemma) Alpha Coronae Borealis Arabic: “bright one of the dish” (Latin: gem)

2.22

0.42

75

68

Suhail Lambda Velorum Arabic: an honorific title of respect

2.23

-3.99

573

69

Sadir Gamma Cygni Arabic: a birds breast

2.23

-6.12

522

70

Mizar Zeta Ursae Majoris Arabic: “groin”

2.23

0.33

78

71

Schedar Alpha Cassiopeiae Arabic: “beast”

2.24

-1.99

228

72

Eltanin Gamma Draconis Arabic: “the dragon’s head”

2.24

-1.04

148

73

Mintaka Delta Orionis Arabic: “belt”

2.25

-4.99

916

74

Caph Beta Cassiopeiae Arabic: “hand”

2.28

1.17

54

75

Dschubba Delta Scorpii Arabic: “forehead”

2.29

-3.16

522

76

Hao Epsilon Scorpii Chinese: “queen”

2.29

0.78

65

77

Epsilon Centauri Epsilon Centauri Bayer designation*

2.29

-3.02

376

78

Alpha Lupi Alpha Lupi Bayer designation*

2.30

-3.83

548

79

Eta Centauri Eta Centauri Bayer designation*

2.33

-2.55

308

80

Merak Beta Ursae Majoris Arabic: “flank”

2.34

0.41

79

81

Izar Epsilon Bootis Arabic: “girdle”

2.35

-1.69

210

82

Enif Epsilon Pegasi Arabic: “nose”

2.38

-4.19

672

83

Kappa Scorpii Kappa Scorpii Bayer designation*

2.39

-3.38

464

84

Ankaa Alpha Phoenicis Arabic: name of a legendary bird

2.40

0.52

77

85

Phecda Gamma Ursae Majoris Arabic: “thigh”

2.41

0.36

84

86

Sabik Eta Ophiuchi Arabic: unknown meaning

2.43

0.37

84

87

Scheat Beta Pegasi Arabic: “shin”

2.44

-1.49

199

88

Alderamin Alpha Cephei Arabic: “the right arm”

2.45

1.58

49

89

Aludra Eta Canis Majoris Arabic: “virginity”

2.45

-7.51

3196

90

Kappa Velorum Kappa Velorum Bayer designation*

2.47

-3.62

539

91

Gienah Epsilon Cygni Arabic: “wing”

2.48

0.76

72

92

Markab Alpha Pegasi Arabic: saddle

2.49

-0.67

140

93

Han Zeta Ophiuchi Chinese: an ancient feudal state in China

2.54

-3.20

458

94

Menkar Alpha Ceti Arabic: “nose”

2.54

-1.61

220

95

Alnair Zeta Centauri Arabic: “the bright one”

2.55

-2.81

384

96

Graffias Beta Scorpii Arabic(?): claws

2.56

-3.50

530

97

Zosma Delta Leonis Greek: “girdle”

2.56

1.32

58

98

Ma Wei Delta Centauri Chinese: “the horse’s tail”

2.58

-2.84

395

99

Arneb Alpha Leporis Arabic: “hare”

2.58

-5.40

1283

100

Gienah Ghurab Gamma Corvi Arabic: “right wing of the raven”

2.58

-0.94

165

* Bayer designation: names given to stars by astronomer Johanne Bayer in his 1603 star atlas Uranometria. The designations consist of a Greek letter followed by the genitive (possessive) form of the constellation name that the star is found in. They were generally named starting with the brightest star and continuing to the dimmest of any given constellation.

Meteors Without Borders – Lyrids Watch 2012

April 21-22, 2012

lyrids_watch-160Perhaps you’ve seen “shooting stars” before, but during GAM you can witness a meteor shower!

The Lyrids meteor shower happens each year from about April 16 to 26 but the most are seen on April 22. Don’t expect continuous meteors covering the sky but you’ll still see a good display. A shower occurs when Earth goes through a swarm of material in space and the meteors appear to come from one point in the sky known as the radiant, in this case in the constellation of Lyra (giving the annual event its name). You’ll see the most Lyrid meteors near the shower’s peak on April 22 as Earth moves through the debris left behind by Comet C/1861 G1 Thatcher, a regular visitor to the inner solar system referred to as a periodic comet. The recorded history of the Lyrids is longer than any other, with records of observations going back 2600 years.

Lyrid meteors are usually around magnitude +2, which is bright enough to be visible from most cities, but you’ll see more and enjoy them more if you leave the city for a dark place where the stars shine brighter. They often produce luminous trains of dust that can be observed for several seconds. Some Lyrids will be brighter, though, and the occassional “fireball” can cast shadows for a split second and leave behind glowing, smoky debris trails that last for minutes. Lyrid meteors disintegrate after hitting our atmosphere at a moderate speed of 29.8 miles per second.

During GAM we include a global Lyrids Watch when everyone is encouraged to observe the Lyrids and send in reports of what they saw. Observing reports like this are valuable scientific evidence that is gathered and analyzed by the International Meteor Organization. Submit your data to IMO; Visual Meteor Observation

Tweet your data! You can also share your data by Tweeting your postcode, your country (click here to find your country code) and, optionally, the meteor count along with the hashtag; #MeteorWatch (you are welcome to use GAM hastags as well – #GAM2012 #LyridsWatch)

The meteor data will appear in a map at MeteorWatch.org

Resources:
Lyrids 2012 details at IMO
Visual Meteor Observation information at IMO

Share your Meteor experience with us:

Share your LyridsWatch images of outreach or meteor-photography with us via GAM2012 Facebook or Flickr group or Tweet using above mentioned hashtags (@gam_awb). Don’t forget to register your events here.

Related articles

SkySafari App Promotion

Special Promotion for GAM
Get Great Software at a Great Price and Support AWB’s Global Astronomy Programs
Now Available for Apple AND Android

From now until the end of Global Astronomy Month on April 30 you can get a great price on the very popular SkySafari 3 apps for Apple and Android mobile devices and Mac OS X.

During this special promotion, 30% of proceeds from all SkySafari sales will be donated to Astronomers Without Borders to support Global Astronomy Month and other AWB global programs.

With significant discounts on all three SkySafari 3 app versions – Basic, Plus and Pro – any sky enthusiast with an iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android mobile device or Mac can now get these award-winning apps at a great price – and help build AWB’s worldwide astronomy community at the same time.

Scorpius-Portrait-iPadThumb Saturn-ObjectInfo-iPadThumb PlusM31ScopeControlThumb
iPad, constellation figures iPad, object information
Click images for screenshots and more information
Android, telescope control

Promotional Pricing

From 16 April to 30 April all SkySafari 3 versions will be discounted from 20% to 50%.
30% of all proceeds will go directly to Astronomers Without Borders programs.

SkySafari 3 – $1.99 (regularly $2.99). 120,000 stars and 220 star clusters, nebulae, and galaxies. Solar system’s major planets and moons using NASA spacecraft imagery, 20 asteroids and comets.

SkySafari 3 Plus – $11.99 (regularly $14.99). Wired or wireless telescope control with accessories sold separately. 2.5 million stars, 31,000 deep sky objects (with entire NGC/IC catalog), over 4,000 asteroids, comets, and satellites.

SkySafari 3 Pro – $39.99 (regularly $59.99). Wired or wireless telescope control with accessories sold separately. 15 million stars (most of any astronomy app), 740,000 galaxies to 18th magnitude, over 550,000 solar system objects including every known comet and asteroid.

How You Can Support Astronomers Without Borders

If you have an Apple or Android mobile device, do yourself – and AWB – a favor and purchase one of these great apps at a significant discount.  If you have a Mac with OS X, go for the Mac version.

But whether you have a platform to run it on or not, you can spread the word to your friends and social networks.  And tell them to pass it on to their connections as well.

One People, One Sky – and now One App

 

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