Sun Does Not Enter Gemini

  According to the pseudoscience of astrology the Sun enters the constellation of the Gemini Twins on Tuesday May 21st. When in fact the actual position of the Sun on this date is still within the boundary of the constellation of Taurus the Bull, as this graphic and the banner graphic show.

   Read a little more about how astrology has the Sun incorrectly placed in a previous blog, and in another blog discussing the effects of precession.

   
   
   

Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for monthly observing information, or here to return to bobs-spaces.


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Mars and Two Open Clusters

   Monday evening April 1st the planet Mars was within about 3o from the open star cluster the Pleiades and about 8-9o from the open star cluster the Hyades. These two open star clusters are part of the constellation Taurus the Bull with the v-shaped Hyades and its reddish star Aldebaran making up the Bull’s face, and the ‘small dipper-shaped’ Pleiades are located along the Bull’s shoulder.

   From mythology it has been told that Orion and Taurus are engaged in a battle. Orion with a shield held up against the charging bull, and the anger of the bull indicated by its red eye, the star Aldebaran.

   
   
   

Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for monthly observing information, or here to return to bobs-spaces.


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Taurus Takes it on the Nose!

    Friday evening October 26th the 18-day old waning gibbous Moon will be 5-6o from the reddish star Aldebaran. This star, at the point of the v-shaped open star cluster the Hyades, represents an angry eye of Taurus the Bull.

   
   
   

Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for monthly observing information, or here to return to bobs-spaces.


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Triangulating with the Moon

   Tuesday morning, August 15th the 23-day old first quarter Moon will be the point of a celestial triangle with the two open star clusters, the Pleiades, and the Hyades as this graphic shows. The v-shaped Hyades forms the face of Taurus the Bull while the ‘dipper-shaped’ Pleiades lies along the Bull’s shoulder. Both open star clusters are about 8o from the Moon.

   
   
   

Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for monthly observing information, or here to return to bobs-spaces.

June Solstice 2016

21june-ecliptic   Northern hemisphere spring comes to an end and its summer begins on Monday June 20th at 22:34 UT (5:34 pm CDT) when the Sun ‘reaches’ the celestial coordinates of 23.5o north declination and 6 hours right ascension. With respect to the Earth’s surface the Sun is described as over the Tropic of Cancer, 23.5o, north latitude of the Earth’s equator. At this same time the Sun is still within the boundaries of the constellation Taurus the Bull – but just barely. Interestingly about 8 hours later, June 21st at 8 UT (3 am CDT) the Sun ‘will move’ into the region of Gemini as it crosses the boundary between Gemini and Taurus.
   According to the pseudoscience of astrology the Sun, at this date, would be entering the astrological sign of Cancer the Crab.
Just had to include this!!   We know that it is the Earth’s orbital motion around the Sun that causes the sun’s apparent eastward motion among the stars in the background. This is how the Sun ‘reaches’ a celestial coordinate, how it ‘crosses’ the boundaries between constellations, or how it is ‘in’ a constellation.
   With respect to the southern hemisphere this is the end of their summer and start of their fall season. So thinking globally my preference has been to use the name of the month to designate the season change. Hence the use of the term June Solstice rather than summer solstice.

   
   
   
Caution: Objects viewed with an optical aid are further than they appear.
   Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.

Field of View

fov-bino   The field of view is the amount of sky you see using an optical aid. I do a lot of sky gazing using either 7×50 or 10×50 binoculars and one of the useful things to know about the binoculars is their respective field of view. In terms of degrees there is not much difference, only 1o between the 7×50 binoculars with an 8o field of view compared to the 10×50 binoculars with a 7o field of view. The greatest difference is the extra magnification the 10×50 binoculars provides.
   So how does this translate into something useful?
Star Hopping
   This is a technique for finding an object in the sky that is a known distance, in degrees, away from a more easily seen object. Typically this is done when using a telescope and the distances are the much smaller field of view for an eyepiece. Regardless of viewing with a telescope eyepiece or binoculars very often there will be a description of perhaps a faint object like an open star cluster, that is near a bright star. With a star chart you could determine which way and how many fields of view you would need to move your optical device. Then note an object across the field of view and re-aim so that the second object is now in the field of view on the side that the first object was. Repeat this until you come to the object being searched for. In this animated graphic a 7×50 binocular is used to view several Messier objects around the feet of the Gemini Twins, and the horns of Taurus the Bull by starting with the star El Nath in Taurus.
   If it Fits…
asterism-bino-ani   There are many small groupings of stars arranged in recognizable patterns like circlets, hexagons, triangles, squares, and so on. Many of these are known as asterisms, or star patterns that are not a constellation but rather are stars within one constellation making the pattern, or stars from more than one constellation sharing stars to form the asterism. Two easy to view are the ‘Y-shape’ in Aquarius the Water Bearer and the ‘Circlet’ in Pisces the Fishes.

   
   
   
   

Caution: Objects viewed with an optical aid are further than they appear.
Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.

June Solstice

Sun's Apparent Motion Along the Ecliptic

Sun’s Apparent Motion Along the Ecliptic – from Taurus to Gemini

   Northern hemisphere spring comes to an end and its summer begins at 12:04 am CDT (05:04 UT) on 21 June as the Sun ‘reaches’ the celestial coordinates of 23.5oN and 6 hours right ascension. With respect to the Earth’s surface the Sun is described as over the Tropic of Cancer, 23.5oN of the Earth’s equator. At this same time the Sun is still within the boundaries of the constellation Taurus the Bull – but just barely. Interestingly 9 hours later, (9:00 am CDT – 14 UT), the Sun ‘will move’ into the region of Gemini as it crosses the boundary between Gemini and Taurus.
   We know that it is the Earth’s orbital motion around the Sun giving rise to the sun’s apparent eastward motion amongst the stars in the background. This is how the Sun ‘reaches’ a celestial coordinate, how it ‘crosses’ the boundaries between constellations, or how it is ‘in‘ a constellation.
   With respect to the southern hemisphere this is the end of their summer and start of their fall season so thinking globally my preference has been to use the name of the month to designate the season change. Hence the use of the term June Solstice rather than the limited to northern hemisphere term summer solstice.

   Follow the seasons by observing how vegetation changes during 1 year. The video below was produced by an Earth orbiting satellite operated by the NASA/NOAA Suomi National Polar Orbiting Partnership (NPP). It is a really interesting narrated tour of the Earth from orbit over a variety of geographic features and landscapes.

Just had to include this!!

Just had to include this!!

   
   

   Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information.