Category Archives: Observation Logs

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.
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ISS flying over Mauritius

Credit: NASA

Though  it seems weird as if I am Re-tweeting my  tweets to myself  but this time on the WordPress blog. But it’s something I’m really looking forward too. Yeah, I want to see this Big ISS again which is going to appear very bright tomorrow morning in the Mauritian Skies. And I’m happy ’cause last time I got this tweet from @twisst. And though it was quite early (tomorrow it’s earlier) and it had been very cloudy out there, but tonight it’s clear skies. And I’m hoping to have a wait to see Mr ISS again.

My last time experience….. I woke up everyone around…..They loved it. ….It’s fun to see a star swooshing up on the sky.

So here’s the Tweet. (I am starting to love twitter now. It bugs me a bit but it’s ok. You get fresh news 24/7).

Hi, Riseupyoursoul!

ISS will be visible passing at your location -weather permitting- on

April 13, 2012, 05:39:40 MUT

Is it a good one?
This time, the International Space Station will be flying over at 85 degrees. Its magnitude will be -3.5: extremely bright!

Where to look?
ISS will come up in northwest and will be heading for southeast. This pass lasts about 6 minutes.

Your location
Your Twitter bio says you are here: “Mauritius“, which Twisst thinks is at these coordinates: -20.348404, 57.552151. More info: Twisst and locations.

 

 

Twisst – ISS alerts through Twitter

I just got this Tweet.

Hi, Riseupyoursoul!

ISS will be visible passing at your location -weather permitting- on

April 11, 2012, 05:56:04 MUT

Is it a good one?
This time, the International Space Station will be flying over at 27 degrees. It will look like a very bright star (magnitude -2.0).

Where to look?
ISS will come up in the north and will be heading for southeast. This pass lasts about 5 minutes.

Your location
Your Twitter bio says you are here: “Mauritius”, which Twisst thinks is at these coordinates: -20.348404, 57.552151. More info: Twisst and locations.

Coming up
The next pass of ISS after this one: April 13, 2012, 05:39:40 MUT

Mauritians, Remember….The early bird gets the worm.

So what is Twisst?

Twisst – tweeting ISS passes near you

Seeing the International Space Station fly over your head is a magical experience.

It crosses your sky often, but if you want to see it, you’ll need to know when exactly to look up.

Twisst sends you an alert on Twitter when you will be able to see ISS. Twisst uses the location you entered in your Twitter bio.

Start following @twisst

Yeah it’s cool. Just follow it and perhaps you could see a rapid going star known as the International Space Station. If you’re taking the Moore Marathon, observing the ISS is among one of the 55 items.

 

International Space Station

 So in case you don’t know what is the ISS. Have a click below you won’t regret it.

I told you before I am learning swimming nowadays. You know why now!!!

Moon and the Parachute Conjunction

There is so much blabbering about Conjunctions nowadays in the astronomy field that I thought my contribution should be there too. During mid-march 2012 you would hear about the Jupiter Venus conjunction, then at the end of the month came the Moon, Jupiter and Venus conjunction. And nowadays  Venus and Pleiades conjunction are making the headlines. (Hope I’ll be posting on these conjunctions) But I am here today with my moon parachute conjunction.

A few days back I went biking after a long pause.  But I didn’t even think that  I would  get this exquisite view of this “conjunction”. After a ride you just want to take a pause, but if you see something remarkable, you just forget the tire-some ride. I had to fumble around quickly for my mobile to take these shots.

 

What seemed peculiar about these parachutes (there were two) were that they were motor driven. I don’t even know what they are called ? Motorized Parachutes?  Or What?

And where was this?

The view was awesome.  This is the view of the Port Chambly Villas & Hotel at Baie du Tombeau. A man made paradise in a natural paradise.

These photos could be considered as the worst in pixels, but personally I liked them. I am not a photographer, neither  an amateur photographer , but I think I do aspire to do some amateur nature photopraghy and  astrophotography later. ( Hope this realizes in the future.)

However, I would always invite any positive criticism to do  better.

Take the Moore Marathon! April 1 thru April 24

To celebrate 55 years of The Sky at Night in April, take on the Moore Marathon stargazing challenge – 55 night sky objects for you to observe. You can find the detailed and quick versions of the Marathon, listing all the objects in the challenge, here.

Sir Patrick Moore has picked his 55 favourite night sky objects and, over the month of April, would like you to see as many as you can. The Moore Marathon will help celebrate 55 years of The Sky at Night, which was first broadcast on 24th April 1957. This show has been part of the fabric of astronomy interest in England for decades, and it has been often observed how Patrick Moore is to British astronomy on TV what Carl Sagan was for viewers in the United States.

Patrick Moore as he appeared on the first ever episode
of The Sky at Night in 1957

From the Moon to the star Albireo, the Moore Marathon has something for everyone.You can spot some with your eyes, others need binoculars or a telescope, and you can take part on your own or as a group.

To celebrate the anniversary, the BBC is holding several special events this year. BBC 1 will air a special episode of the show April 1 titled “Warp factor 55,” which will take viewers on a journey at the speed of light throughout the cosmos, exploring stars, nebulae, and galaxies along the way (this is today). On 6 May on BBC One, and 10 May on BBC Four, The Sky at Night will feature a selection of your observations, from the simple to the most interesting.

You can take part by downloading a Moore Marathon observing form. There are two types,

QUICK OBSERVING FORM

 The Quick Observing Form  skyatnight55_quickform

Download this Excel file, save it on your computer, fill it in and email it back to skyatnight@bbc.co.uk.

To be included in the programme, this must be emailed by 24 April 2012.

Or, if you want to include more detail in your observation reports…

DETAILED OBSERVING FORM

The Detailed Observing Form. skyatnight55_detailedform

Download this PDF, print it out and fill it in by hand. Then post it back to: The Sky at Night, BBC Birmingham, The Mailbox, Birmingham, B1 1RF.

To be included in the programme, forms must be received by 24 April 2012.

You can also download a detailed observing guide to Patrick Moore’s 55 objects, assembled and written by British observer Pete Lawrence.

Credit: BBC

A message from Sir Patrick

“I hope you enjoy the objects I have picked out for you to observe in April and I look forward to finding out how you get on. Good luck and thank you for taking part.”

Info borrowed from: here & here.

Moon between Procyon and Gemini

Moon between Procyon And Gemini

Hey, Do you see the moon tonite. Isn’t it beautiful?  So what are these stars nearby? Or are they planets? The whole week it had been  raining. But now, though the sporadic showers we can have  a beautiful sky tonight.

Tonight at 11:00 p.m ( local Mauritian Time), in our sky the moon which is in its waxing gibbous phase, is between three stars. The star above the moon is Procyon. Procyon is the brightest star in the constellation Canis Minor (the small Dog). And below the moon we have two stars Castor and Pollux. These two stars are in the constellation Gemini (the Twins).

Towards the West, you can have a look at Sirius, the brightest star in our skies. Sirius is in the constellation Canis Major (the Big Dog). And towards North West you would have to raise your head to see Mars , a bright looking yellow star in the constellation Leo. Though as I said Mars looks like a star but is not. It’s a planet. So have a look before it starts raining cats and dogs again.

Did you know that in the Southern Hemisphere, the moon passes between the Gemini stars and Procyon once a month? And people living in the Northern Hemisphere will see the moon, Gemini stars, and Procyon in their southern evening sky. They’ll see the scene “upside down,” with Procyon shining below the moon, and Castor and Pollux above the moon?

Night sky scene in the northern hemisphere

You still don’t understand? Ok, just do the up-stand position in front of the night sky, you would get the “upside down” scene.

Chocolate Mars with Leo

Addiction is  a bad thing. People are  addicted to anything mobile phones, T.V, video games,  cigarettes, internet, Facebook, drugs or even  chocolate. It always leads to something real bad. What about being addicted to the night sky?

Getting up late at night and going outside and gazing up at  the  sky is something to be done, especially as it is summer now. It’s so refreshing, clears up the mind and even puts you on  a high . You get the real calmness of the night, coupled with a light breeze going right  through your hair, your favourite chocolate with you……. this is a great moment ( ……. ). Experience it at 2:00 a.m.

However, you don’t need to be addicted to the night sky, you  can just be a casual night gazer. It’s free. People  don’t just gaze at something, they  don’t understand, so gazing should be coupled with knowing , understanding and appreciation. The night sky is there for that.  It’s just the factor of amazement,  The everyday amazement of such a beautiful  created sky is longing to be seen and  appreciated. Not just that it needs to be appreciated because it’s beautiful  but to think that the sky has been there with all it’s  majesty for so long and has been amazing billions of people around the globe and would stay a wonder. Obviously it is there for a perfect reason.

So what’s up there in the night sky?

Nous sommes au mois de Mars, nous devrions regarder la planète Mars. It’s great that Mars is there up for us to see.

Mars towards East

Mars is already in the sky towards the East as from the evening at sunset. If you fancy following Mars the whole night then  you would have to raise your head towards  the east and then follow it towards the west . Mars would drown itself in the western horizon at about 4:00 a.m in the morning. So, have your eyes up. If ever, during this weekend  you’re planning anything outside at night, or just get up from sleep at 2:00 am then visit mars on Leo’s  belly.

Towards the west at 2:00 a.m. It’s  great that Mars is there up for us to see.  (If you ever get up at night:)) Mars would be in front of you, if you face towards the west and look up at the sky. Mars is settled just above the constellation of Leo. It’s just as if Mars is on the belly of the lion while the lion is dozing off with its four feet upwards.  You don’t have to picture all this ,but it’s just so amazing to see Regulus and the other stars too.

Regulus? Now what is this? Regulus is the main brightest star in the constellation Leo.  Known also as the heart of the Lion.

Regulus - The Lion's heart

I still don’t find it?

At sunset , that is where the sun sets , toward the west. Look towards the sun. Then change your position to 90 degrees that’s the  East. Now look towards  the sky in this position a little later( about half or an hour later)  after sunset, you would see a bright yellow looking star, which doesn’t twinkle.  That is Planet Mars. If you look at it with a pair of binoculars you would see that is glowing red. So, have a look and give me your shout.

So if you are addicted in any way,  other than sleeping, Then go out  to see the night sky. Give me a shout if you find Mars.

 

The conjunction of Venus and Jupiter

What do you say about that?

Ahhh. That star…. it’s so bright. I see it almost nearly everyday from my room.

It’s so clear here….. I think this is the same star.

I was rather smiling at my friend at this point.

Etaaa …. You studied Physics your whole life and you don’t even know that this is not a star.

Ooh….Ohhh….Ohhh

This is planet Venus, the brighter one and the other is Jupiter.

I think this was too harsh for my friend who had just dropped by my house. Anyone looking at these planets would obviously say that these planets are stars. They shine so bright. As for Venus, wow, it is brighter than Sirius (the brightest star in our night sky) nowadays. But how to know if they are not stars. Stars shine and they shimmer in brightness (twinkle), but planets do shine but do not shimmer. Yeah if there is a wind then they would, but if it’s calm they won’t shimmer.

Looking towards the West Northwest as from the sunset until 8:00 pm, the conjunction of Venus and Jupiter would be easily seen.  Venus and Jupiter would remain closer during the few days to come.

This News Bulletin just released by the The Astronomy And Nature Centre TV gives a good explanation coupled with a presentation on Stellarium.

If you want to get a quick idea of the conjunction in 90 seconds then listen to this podcast. If you ever fantasy tacking a picture of them just give me a shout.

Have your eyes up to the sky and you will appreciate the view.

Venus-Jupiter on 14/03/2012

Venus and Jupiter on 15/03/2012

 

My First Observation

Rather would like to call it My First Night SKY gazing

Forgetting my new pair of binocs was not something willed upon but New Year 2012 was approaching and as the hump-jump was everywhere, the sky was absolutely something to be forgotten about.

Do, you think the sky can be just something taken for granted and not taken care about? Obviously, for the half of my life I had never taken any interest with the sky, nor does the mass of dumbed down populace.

So why this sudden rush to understand the sky now??

The sky has been always there, neither it is so “enchanting” nor “magnetic” but our eyes are so riveted to our laptop screens or our TV sets that we have almost no time to care for what’s happening above us. Or, to just even ponder about a sky so beautiful with all its mysteries there waiting to be explored upon.

The creation of the heavens and the earth is indeed greater than the creation of mankind; yet, most of mankind knows not.

(Quran 40:57)

At 12:00 a.m midnight, around the world as it is, the festivities started with the fire works show.

In Mauritius, at the peak of the Signal Mountain this fireworks time-lapse was taken.

Unbelievingly, by one in the morning of January 2012, everything quietened up. The night was still.  No stirring up of even the leaves on trees around.

I am still thinking why did I go out that night rather than sleep?

So, my first observation did happen on 01/01/2012. How do I remember this? I think reading a review somewhere  I  came upon the advice that if you are entering this amateur astronomy hobby, ever if you are observing even for a few minutes , just record the observations. It would help you a lot.

How?

Personally, while reviewing at my log notes in my personal diary, I looked foolish of what I had logged as my first observations, but it was so interesting that an amateur as me brought in my own astronomy definitions on my first time to the already defined observable universe.

Nevertheless, the first observation remains the best and the most memorable.

Perhaps this is why I am so much in love with  Alnitak, Alnilam and Mintaka. These three prominent stars inthe central regions of the constellation of Orion align to form the ‘belt’ of the Hunter.

And surprisingly the whole world is also. Take any beginner’s guide to the sky, they would talk only Orion,Orion, Orion. I didn’t know about Orion or its belt, but perhaps this was a sign from The Creator that this is where you should start your journey to the universe. There is so much I have learned about these three that I am baffled and there is still more to come.

The actual observation

Standing towards the west, I saw this magnificently in front of me.

I continuously looked at this portion of the sky for 2 hrs straight

What I actually wrote as observational notes?

Night gazing: The axe

Naked eye: Concentrated dots

Binocs: Small dots.

01:00 – 03:00 am

I also drew the dots  in a diary.

What makes me foolish looking now is that I called the Orion belt as the axe’s blade and the Orion Nebulae as the axe’s handle.

Hey, if the Greeks can make out Gods out of stars why can’t I make my own Axe?

The Orion Hunter

So, I have already fallen in love with the sky, what are you waiting to raise your eyes to the beautiful night sky?

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