Sunday, September 13, 2009

Astronomy (Sept. 15th and 16th 2009)

Venus, the “morning star,” is to the lower left of the Moon at first light on the 15th, with Mars above the Moon. Venus is close to the left of the Moon on the 16th. Regulus is to their lower left.

Leo, the Lion
The zodiacal constellation Leo, the lion, is one of a handful of constellations that really does look like its namesake. Look for Leo high in south in April and May.

Leo's brightest star is blue-white Regulus, one of the brightest stars in the night sky. Regulus rises almost due east, with the body of the lion following it into the sky over the next couple of hours. Once Regulus climbs into the sky, look to its left toward the north for a group of stars forming a backward question mark. These stars outline Leo's head and mane.

About two hours later, look low in the east for Leo's tail a white star named Denebola an Arabic name that, means "tail of the lion."

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Astronomy (Sept. 13th and 14th 2009)

September 13-14, 2009
Mars rises just below the Moon on the morning of the 13th (around 1-2 a.m.), and a little farther above it on the 14th. Pollux and Castor, the twin stars of Gemini, align to the left of the Moon on the 14th.

Gemini, the Twins
Gemini is easy to find as it glides high overhead in mid-winter, above and to the left of Orion. It's two brightest stars Castor and Pollux represent the mythological twins brothers of Helen of Troy.

Many cultures have seen two humans in this star pattern marked by two roughly parallel lines of stars capped by two of the brightest stars in our night sky. But the legend that endures is that of Castor and Pollux. Gemini's two brightest stars bear the names of the twins.

Pollux is the brighter of the twins. It's an orange giant star that's about 35 light-years from Earth. Castor consists of six stars, a cosmic sextet locked in a gravitational ballet. This crowded system lies about 50 light-years from Earth.