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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

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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

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.

 

 

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.

 

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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