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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

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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.

SkySafari App Promotion

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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.

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iPad, constellation figures iPad, object information
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Constellations: Official List

The Constellations Table :A complete table with information about all the 88 Constellations as defined by the I.A.U. ( International Astronomical Union ). Abbreviations, Genitive and Latin Names, English Names and more.FIELD LIST

ABBREV : IAU abbreviation
CONSTELLATION : latin name
GENITIVE : latin genitive ( possessive )
ENGLISH NAME : english translation
AREA : constellation size or area, in square degrees
HEM : position in the celestial sphere :
NH – northern celestial hemisphere – declination between 0° and +90°
SH – southern celestial hemisphere – declination between 0° and – 90°
ALPHA STAR : proper name of the alpha star.

ALPHABETICAL ORDER

Cosmobrain’s Constellation Table

No. Abbrev. Constellation Genitive English Name

Area

Hem.

Alpha Star

1

And

Andromeda Andromedae Andromeda

722

NH

Alpheratz

2

Ant

Antlia Antliae Air Pump

239

SH

3

Aps

Apus Apodis Bird of Paradise

206

SH

4

Aqr

Aquarius Aquarii Water Carrier

980

SH

Sadalmelik

5

Aql

Aquila Aquilae Eagle

652

NH-SH

Altair

6

Ara

Ara Arae Altar

237

SH

7

Ari

Aries Arietis Ram

441

NH

Hamal

8

Aur

Auriga Aurigae Charioteer

657

NH

Capella

9

Boo

Bootes Bootis Herdsman

907

NH

Arcturus

10

Cae

Caelum Caeli Chisel

125

SH

11

Cam

Camelopardalis Camelopardalis Giraffe

757

NH

12

Cnc

Cancer Cancri Crab

506

NH

Acubens

13

CVn

Canes Venatici Canun Venaticorum Hunting Dogs

465

NH

Cor Caroli

14

CMa

Canis Major Canis Majoris Big Dog

380

SH

Sirius

15

CMi

Canis Minor Canis Minoris Little Dog

183

NH

Procyon

16

Cap

Capricornus Capricorni Goat ( Capricorn )

414

SH

Algedi

17

Car

Carina Carinae Keel

494

SH

Canopus

18

Cas

Cassiopeia Cassiopeiae Cassiopeia

598

NH

Schedar

19

Cen

Centaurus Centauri Centaur

1060

SH

Rigil Kentaurus

20

Cep

Cepheus Cephei Cepheus

588

SH

Alderamin

21

Cet

Cetus Ceti Whale

1231

SH

Menkar

22

Cha

Chamaleon Chamaleontis Chameleon

132

SH

23

Cir

Circinus Circini Compasses

93

SH

24

Col

Columba Columbae Dove

270

SH

Phact

25

Com

Coma Berenices Comae Berenices Berenice’s Hair

386

NH

Diadem

26

CrA

Corona Australis Coronae Australis Southern Crown

128

SH

27

CrB

Corona Borealis Coronae Borealis Northern Crown

179

NH

Alphecca

28

Crv

Corvus Corvi Crow

184

SH

Alchiba

29

Crt

Crater Crateris Cup

282

SH

Alkes

30

Cru

Crux Crucis Southern Cross

68

SH

Acrux

31

Cyg

Cygnus Cygni Swan

804

NH

Deneb

32

Del

Delphinus Delphini Dolphin

189

NH

Sualocin

33

Dor

Dorado Doradus Goldfish

179

SH

34

Dra

Draco Draconis Dragon

1083

NH

Thuban

35

Equ

Equuleus Equulei Little Horse

72

NH

Kitalpha

36

Eri

Eridanus Eridani River

1138

SH

Achernar

37

For

Fornax Fornacis Furnace

398

SH

38

Gem

Gemini Geminorum Twins

514

NH

Castor

39

Gru

Grus Gruis Crane

366

SH

Al Na’ir

40

Her

Hercules Herculis Hercules

1225

NH

Rasalgethi

41

Hor

Horologium Horologii Clock

249

SH

42

Hya

Hydra Hydrae Hydra ( Sea Serpent )

1303

SH

Alphard

43

Hyi

Hydrus Hydri Water Serpen ( male )

243

SH

44

Ind

Indus Indi Indian

294

SH

45

Lac

Lacerta Lacertae Lizard

201

NH

46

Leo

Leo Leonis Lion

947

NH

Regulus

47

LMi

Leo Minor Leonis Minoris Smaller Lion

232

NH

48

Lep

Lepus Leporis Hare

290

SH

Arneb

49

Lib

Libra Librae Balance

538

SH

Zubenelgenubi

50

Lup

Lupus Lupi Wolf

334

SH

Men

51

Lyn

Lynx Lyncis Lynx

545

NH

52

Lyr

Lyra Lyrae Lyre

286

NH

Vega

53

Men

Mensa Mensae Table

153

SH

54

Mic

Microscopium Microscopii Microscope

210

SH

55

Mon

Monoceros Monocerotis Unicorn

482

SH

56

Mus

Musca Muscae Fly

138

SH

57

Nor

Norma Normae Square

165

SH

58

Oct

Octans Octantis Octant

291

SH

59

Oph

Ophiucus Ophiuchi Serpent Holder

948

NH-SH

Rasalhague

60

Ori

Orion Orionis Orion

594

NH-SH

Betelgeuse

61

Pav

Pavo Pavonis Peacock

378

SH

Peacock

62

Peg

Pegasus Pegasi Winged Horse

1121

NH

Markab

63

Per

Perseus Persei Perseus

615

NH

Mirfak

64

Phe

Phoenix Phoenicis Phoenix

469

SH

Ankaa

65

Pic

Pictor Pictoris Easel

247

SH

66

Psc

Pisces Piscium Fishes

889

NH

Alrischa

67

PsA

Pisces Austrinus Pisces Austrini Southern Fish

245

SH

Fomalhaut

68

Pup

Puppis Puppis Stern

673

SH

69

Pyx

Pyxis Pyxidis Compass

221

SH

70

Ret

Reticulum Reticuli Reticle

114

SH

71

Sge

Sagitta Sagittae Arrow

80

NH

72

Sgr

Sagittarius Sagittarii Archer

867

SH

Rukbat

73

Sco

Scorpius Scorpii Scorpion

497

SH

Antares

74

Scl

Sculptor Sculptoris Sculptor

475

SH

75

Sct

Scutum Scuti Shield

109

SH

76

Ser

Serpens Serpentis Serpent

637

NH-SH

Unuck al Hai

77

Sex

Sextans Sextantis Sextant

314

SH

78

Tau

Taurus Tauri Bull

797

NH

Aldebaran

79

Tel

Telescopium Telescopii Telescope

252

SH

80

Tri

Triangulum Trianguli Triangle

132

NH

Ras al Mothallah

81

TrA

Triangulum Australe Trianguli Australis Southern Triangle

110

SH

Atria

82

Tuc

Tucana Tucanae Toucan

295

SH

83

UMa

Ursa Major Ursae Majoris Great Bear

1280

NH

Dubhe

84

UMi

Ursa Minor Ursae Minoris Little Bear

256

NH

Polaris

85

Vel

Vela Velorum Sails

500

SH

86

Vir

Virgo Virginis Virgin

1294

NH-SH

Spica

87

Vol

Volans Volantis Flying Fish

141

SH

88

Vul

Vulpecula Vulpeculae Fox

268

NH

BY EDUARDO SOARES

©Cosmobrain.com 2001 – All Rights Reserved.

Credits : http://www.cosmobrain.com/cosmobrain/res/constellations.html

Eyes on the Sky: March 2012

Eyes on the Sky: Feb 27 thru Mar 4

Ecliptic Occultation

The Moon occasionally occults – or covers – stars and/or planets from our point of view, on it’s journey around the Earth.  This week, on the night of the 1st into the morning of the 2nd, observers in northern sections of North America over towards Greenland may be able to spot this event.  If you are not sure if you will be able to see it, download the software Stellarium and input your location and local time.  For some, the Moon may have set by the time the occultation occurs; for those that can see the Moon and star but not the Moon covering it, watch how fast the Moon moves by the star through a telescope, if possible.

Also this week: Mars reaches opposition on the 3rd, and will get smaller as the Earth revolves faster around the Sun.  Nearby to the Red Planet are several brighter Messier galaxies in Leo the Lion, worth checking out in medium or larger telescopes.  Also discussed: Where to spot Venus, Jupiter, Mercury and Saturn this week.

Eyes on the Sky: Mar 5 thru Mar 11

Jupiter and Venus snuggle up

This week, the two brightest planets in the night sky, Jupiter and Venus, get closer each day until they reach conjunction early next week.  Watch this planetary pile-up over the next few days, and later in the week, spot both planets in the same field of view with binoculars.  As an added bonus, the speedy Mercury reaches it’s highest point above the horizon early in the week, making it an easy spot below the two brighter planets at evening twilight.

Also this week: The Moon moves by Mars early in the week, and sidles up to Saturn by Saturday; look for this to occur around midnight towards the south.  See the video for details.

Eyes on the Sky: March 12 thru March 18

Mars crashes the Messier party

The galaxies M95, M96 and M105 in Leo are far enough away from bright, easy-to-find stars that they can be a bit of a challenge to find. But this week, Mars literally passes right through their midst, and at magnitude -1 (brighter than most every star in the sky), it makes it a cinch to find them. Also, Jupiter and Venus are dancing past each other in the western, evening sky, unmistakably bright in some dimmer constellations. Look a bit towards the north though, and spot the constellation Perseus, with it’s treasure trove of open clusters visible in binoculars and small telescopes. And last but not least, Saturn has easily cleared the horizon well before midnight, so not is an ideal time to set your sights on the ringed planet.

Eyes on the Sky: March 19 thru March 25

Venturing through the Virgo galaxy cluster / catching a comet

The Virgo galaxy cluster is a “must-see” area of sky for any amateur astronomer looking to conduct a Messier marathon, which are popular to attempt around this time of year.  “Eyes on the Sky” points towards the “jump off point” to find several of these galaxies.  Swinging northward, Comet Garradd is still slowly making its way through our solar system, cruising past the pointer stars of the Big Dipper this week.  It is an easier target in a small, wide-field telescope, but can be spotted with binoculars in moderately light polluted areas with careful scanning.  Download and print this star chart from Sky and Telescope magazine to help you find the comet this week.

The star charts mentioned in the video:

  1.  Chart 11 :VIRGO, COMA BERENICES, CORVUS, SERPENS CAPUT
  2. Chart 11a: Close up of VIRGO galaxies

 

Eyes on the Sky: March 26 thru April 1

Venus near Nymphs / Spotlighting the “Leaps”

Though the conjunction of Venus and Jupiter is several weeks past, there will still plenty of fantastic views to in the western and southwestern evening sky this week thanks to those planets, the Moon and some nearby stars and open clusters.  And looking towards the north, an oft-overlooked section of the Big Bear gets some attention this week, offering up some interesting insights into stellar evolution, colors and distance as the “Leaps” lead to luminous lights in the sky.

Download Stellarium free

What is Stellarium?

Stellarium is a Planetarium on your desktop . That is what it is.

You see the sky ?

Have your laptop with you?

Stellarium is installed?

If you said yes to the above ?

Start Stellarium

And Behold!! The sky wherever you are is on your screen.

Now just look up and down, up and down, up and down.

You will be able to surf around the sky in a few minutes.

Short but sweet

Stellarium, it helps you to learn the sky a lot.

  1. Learning the constellations: Names of the 88 constellations.
  2. Know about the boundaries of the constellations: Constellation Lines
  3. Astro Art of the constellations.
  4. Know about the major and minor stars in the constellations: You know their minutest details, like how far is the star, e.g:  Rigel: 772.88 years light years, the RA/DE, the parallax, the star magnitude and a lot of other details.
  5. Knowing about the planets
  6. Knowing about the asteroids
  7. Individual Stars
  8. Binary Stars
  9. Nebulae
  10. Deep sky Objects
  11. Zooming facility
  12. Indication of the Cardinal Points
  13. One great feature is Rewind, Fast-forward, Pause and Play……. Time. You can obviously predict which star will be where and when. Or just see how the moon orbits around the earth.
  14. Wherever you are in the world you can observe the sky with Stellarium. You can obviously observe How constellations form in Paris, Germany, or even in Australia or Mauritius. Have fun while learning at the same time.

Actually it is a fun way to learn the Universe in a more visual way. I recommend it to every newbie interested in knowing about our amazing universe.

One more thing, if you just want the universe for yourselves than so be it, but if you want to share, than it is good to know that Stellarium is good for presentations too. If you want the professional touch then you have Stellarium Console. Or, you can even have Stellarium on your Mobiles. The universe on your palms.

You can have a rough introductory guide here and more about functionalities here.

For more informational and detailed features on Stellarium I would  rather recommend the reviews here and here.

There are many other cool features, you just have to try it. And if you’re kind enough, then let me know too…… through your comments below.

So what are you waiting for? Download Stellarium free now.

Astronomy Outreach for dummies

 

Back to the class after one of my efforts to the first unofficial Astronomy Outreach with the students. I started the class with

“ So my students I gave you a homework to do last time I came to your class.” (Eyebrows-up as expecting them to answer).  And so they did answer

“ Yeah, you told us to look  at the sky at night.”

(Previously, after an hour lecture, I told them to just appreciate the night sky, and it could  be  rather done accompanied)

Aa.. distance la moonu moonu
Moonu colour-u white.
White-u background night night-u
Night-u coloru black-u

Now the rantings started.

Hunhhahaha..
Super maama ready..
Ready.. one..e.. two.o.. three.. four.

One : “Ayyo, I spent an hour outside and didn’t find anything.”

Two: “Me also, you told us to see the stars but there are so many.”

Three: “I was looking above at the sky and didn’t find anything. I was tired and went inside.”

Why this kolaveri kolaveri kolaveri di

So, to start there is so much too see at the sky but only there should be a guide to explain where to start ‘cause at the night the stars are all over but where to find each one of them is the real thing.

On a real dark night you can find from  1500 to  2000 stars on the sky. So where to start?

You start here or here.

If I give you a world map with all the countries on them but without the markings and the country names and assuming you never saw a map in your life. Could you identify where China or India is? What about tiny Mauritius

But now if I give you a map of the world with the naming and markings then assuming you are still the same dumber who strangely has never seen a map but knows a bit of English. So now could you find United States of America?

Though with some difficulty I think you could do it.

And now if I give you the same task but give you a search option to look for a country on a digital map, say for example a google map. Then what you think could you find it more easily .

You would obviously say

“YEAAAAh”

Similarly, the night sky is the same . The night sky is like a map. You should know the bigger countries where they are placed at first and then with time you would know where tiny looking Mauritius is.

Stars in the night tend to attach themselves together to form clusters. Ah! That is why we say “A cluster of stars”. But we rather know them as constellations. So these constellations group themselves in the night sky just like big countries like Australia, India, United States etc.

And when you look at them you know where they are.

Now, you are given a Star map with the names on it, obviously you would not find France , Brazil, Saudi Arabia or countries like that but rather, Orion, Auriga, Perseus, or Gemini. And you don’t know what the hell is that, but you go outside with a star map and start looking at the stars. You would return to your room with the expression WTF?

Do you get the WTF expression?

But, the thing is it starts becoming interesting when you identify your first country. Once you get that, you have jumped on to your ride to the Universe. Believe me it’s the most exciting thing.

So, for example you find the Orion’s belt. From here you can find almost all the countries “constellations” of your star map. Try not to do it all in one go.  Go step by step.  You would have to use the technique known as Starhopping.

But my advice would be to go by identifying the borders of your identified countries so that you will be able to find your next constellation. But in this process. You will have to know the stars too.

So, you will come to a point that you will be able to identify the stars within a constellation. Don’t panic there won’t be a thousand stars in a constellation but only a few.

Take it just as major cities in a country, like India has Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkota and Chennai. So, in Taurus which is near to Orion you would find, Aldebaran, Elnath, fainter than Aldebaran  or even The Pleiades.

Now to the next step, you are a smart guy, you don’t like being like the oldies, like taking your map and going outside and fumbling with it and looking weird. (You already are weird when you’re just looking at the sky specially at night. Onlookers get the impression as if you are looking for UFO’s. I am going through this) You are the techie guy. Though old school always proves itself to be the best one.

So for you, there is a great solution too. Stellarium.  Ah! this is the best piece of software ever created for Mankind. I love it.So you for example don’t know where to look. Start here on Stellarium. Take your laptop outside and now you will be able to surf around the sky in a few minutes.

With Stellarium you just type in the search “Orion”.

And

 

On your screen behold! Orion appears

 

And now your want to starhop , want to surf around, want to learn the constellations, you can practically do everything.

Moreover, You can zooooooooooom , that is you can enlarge the stars with your mouse scroll to have a look on each star. And with the magnification you appreciate the hugeness of each Individual star.

So, I think this ends the lesson here on how to start seeing the sky. I think I should go out  now to have my eyes on  the night sky to see what’s up.

P.S: In our part of the world we always see the hunter upside down in comparison to the Northern Hemisphere. I think the greeks never visited down here.

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