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May 11, 2012 May 11, 2012

Posted by orionrising in Uncategorized.
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Venus and Alnath (Beta Tauri) were in a beautiful pairing tonight as I was walking home.  It’s always interesting to have a planet paired brilliantly with a star.  Oftentimes in astronomy when several planets are in close proximity they get the most attention, but tonight Alnath was close enough to complement Venus quite well. The supermoon a few days ago was also quite spectacular, it was indeed very bright and full and the sky was clear.  No screenshot tonight unfortunately, I haven’t gotten the Stellarium on my Linux system to behave properly lately.  Hopefully the next time I make a posting I’ll have pretty pictures. The sky was very clear tonight.

Beta Tauri is so named because it’s the second brightest star in the constellation Taurus.  The brightest star in a constellation will often be assigned the alpha designation; for example, alpha centauri is the brightest star in the constellation Centaurus.  If you quickly search up a star map of Beta Tauri’s surrounding stars on Google or your favorite planetarium program, you’ll quickly notice that Beta Tauri is very close to the constellation Auriga, and may be connected to Auriga’s stars.  Lying on the boundary of both constellations, the star can be referred in older texts as part of Auriga instead of Taurus [http://bit.ly/KvLt7u]. Interestingly, Alnath is one of the closest major stars to the Galactic Anticenter, a region in space opposite to the Galactic Center (the center of the Milky Way Galaxy) [http://bit.ly/Jv7DUE].

February 23, 2011 February 23, 2011

Posted by orionrising in Observing.
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Hydra the Serpent's Head and Neck

Object: Stars

Site: Front Yard

Seeing: 3

Transparency: Good

Type: Deep-Sky

Constellation: Hydra

Magnification: 10x

FOV: 4.8 Degrees

Observing Time: 7:45 – 7:55 pm

Notes: Some after-dinner observing.  Tonight I decided to find something new and eventually settled on Hydra, the Serpent.  After charting my path in Stellarium, I first located Sirius by projecting from Orion’s Belt, then moved West ~35 degrees until the sight in the image above was in my binoculars.  Shown above is the head of Hydra, made up of a rough pentagon of relatively faint stars.   Xi, Sigma, and Epsilon HYA appeared brighter and had a greenish tinge through my binoculars.  In Greek mythology, Hydra was a ferocious sea serpent with many heads, who was the terror of any man or village in close proximity to it; Hercules later defeated it with the help of his nephew Iolaus [http://bit.ly/eODV62]. Overall was an interesting find, but if I hadn’t been looking for it directly, this constellation would have been easy to miss due to its relatively dim stars.

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