May 30, 2020

The Strange Realms of 70 Ophiuchi.

In early 2011, astronomers “discovered”¯ a constellation. Well, not exactly; but if you were to believe the media, the “13th sign”¯ of the zodiac was a new one, at least to them. Hey, non-event it may be, but it was fun to see Ophiuchus trend, as folks pondered the realm of the serpent bearer and wondered exactly what the horoscope of a person born under such an arcane sign could be. The truth is that the Sun has been known to past through 13 constellations since the boundaries of the 88 modern constellations were formalized by the International Astronomical Union in 1922, and the Moon can appear in 18 of them! (Can you name the 6 non-zodiacal signs?) [Read more...]

Astro-Challenge: The Bizarre System of Xi Ursae Majoris.

Just what do you show folks when you’re doing urban astronomy from a light polluted sidewalk and there’s not a Moon or planet above the horizon?  Double stars are a favorite star party backup of ours. Part of the “Wow” factor comes from knowing what you’re looking at; just how bizarre would it be to live in a system with multiple suns? Several star party faves such as Alcor & Mizar, Albireo, Castor and Algeiba exist. This week, we’re going to look at a hidden pair to add to your late spring/ early summer repertoire; Xi Ursae Majoris. [Read more...]

Astro-Event: The First Lunar Eclipse of 2012.

The partial phase of the December, 2010 total lunar eclipse. (Photo by Author).

(Note: I know, we promised a post on Xi Ursae Majoris this week; upcoming events prompted a last minute scheduling change. Trust me, it’s in the pipeline for July!)

A little over 24 hours prior to the big ticket transit of the planet Venus on June 5th-6th is another interesting astronomical event, perhaps less sexy, but worth noting. [Read more...]