Northern

Northern backyard stargazers can get a good monthly guide to the heavens with this relaxing and easy on the ear Night Sky video. “Tonight’s Sky” is produced by HubbleSite.org, online home of the Hubble Space Telescope.

 Constellations, Deep-Sky Objects – February 2019

 On This Day – In February

1st 2003, the Space Shuttle Columbia (USA) disintegrated on re-entry killing all seven astronauts and halting the shuttle program for over two years.

3rd 1996, Luna 9 (USSR) made the first soft-landing on the moon and transmitted the first images from the Moon.

4th 1976, Lunar Orbiter 3 (USA) launches to the moon to select Apollo landing sites.

7th 1979, Pluto moves inside Neptune’s orbit for the first time since its 1930 discovery.

8th 1969, the Allende meteorite, the largest carbonaceous meteorite found, lands near the village of Allende, Mexico.

9th 1986, first module of Mir space station (USSR) is launched into Earth orbit.

9th 1473, birth of Nicholas Copernicus, famous for the heliocentric theory in On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres published 1543 prior to his death which triggered the ‘Copernican Revolution’.

9th 1975, Soyuz 17 (USSR) returns to earth setting Soviet record of 29 days in space.

12th 1961, Venera 1 probe (USSR) launched to Venus by Soviet Union.

12th 2001, NEAR Shoemaker (USA) is first probe to land on an asteroid – 433 Eros.

13th 2004, discovery of ‘largest diamond’, white star BPM 37093, is announced.

15th 1564, birth of astronomer, physicist and engineer Galileo Galilei in Pisa, Italy. Supported heliocentric solar system, and studied motion, telescopes, moons of Jupiter, rings of Saturn, phases of Venus, Sun spots, and features of the moon.

17th 1965, Ranger 8 (USA) probe launches to image the moon to aid Apollo landings.

18th 1930, Clyde Tombaugh (USA) discovered Pluto using a blink comparator in a systematic search for supposed ‘Planet X’ beyond Neptune.

20th 1962, first American astronaut into orbit, John Glenn, in Mercury Friendship 7 in three orbits lasting almost 5 hours.

22nd 1632, Galileo publishes Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems which compared solar system models and led to conflict with and censure by the Catholic Church.

23rd 1987, SN1987A, closest and brightest supernova since 1054 was observed in the Large Magellanic Cloud.

24th 1968, post-graduate student Jocelyn Bell (Northern Ireland) discovers first pulsars.

26th 1966, first Saturn 1B rocket launch, which led to Saturn V Apollo missions.

27th 1942, JS Hey (UK) discovered radio emissions coming from the Sun.

28th 1997, first evidence for gamma ray bursts (GRB) as extra-galactic energy sources.

 

_________________________

Want to become a better astronomer? Learn your way around the constellations!

They’re the key to locating everything fainter and deeper to hunt with binoculars or a telescope.

This is an outdoor nature hobby. For an easy-to-use constellation guide covering the whole evening sky, use the big monthly map in the center of each issue of Sky & Telescope, the essential guide to astronomy.

Pocket Sky Atlas, jumbo edition

The Pocket Sky Atlas

Once you get a telescope, to put it to good use you’ll need a detailed, large-scale sky atlas (set of charts). The basic standard is the Pocket Sky Atlas (in either the original or Jumbo Edition), which shows stars to magnitude 7.6.

Next up is the larger and deeper Sky Atlas 2000.0, plotting stars to magnitude 8.5; nearly three times as many. The next up, once you know your way around, is the even larger Uranometria 2000.0 (stars to magnitude 9.75). And read how to use sky charts with a telescope.

You’ll also want a good deep-sky guidebook, such as Sue French’s Deep-Sky Wonders collection (which includes its own charts), Sky Atlas 2000.0 Companion by Strong and Sinnott, or the bigger Night Sky Observer’s Guide by Kepple and Sanner.

Can a computerized telescope replace charts? Not for beginners, I don’t think, and not on mounts and tripods that are less than top-quality mechanically (meaning heavy and expensive).

And as Terence Dickinson and Alan Dyer say in their Backyard Astronomer’s Guide, “A full appreciation of the universe cannot come without developing the skills to find things in the sky and understanding how the sky works. This knowledge comes only by spending time under the stars with star maps in hand.”

The Pocket Sky Atlas plots 30,796 stars to magnitude 7.6 — which may sound like a lot, but it’s less than one per square degree on the sky. Also plotted are many hundreds of telescopic galaxies, star clusters, and nebulae. Shown above is the new Jumbo Edition for easier reading in the night. Click image for larger view.

 Skywatching Terms

  • Asterism: A noteworthy or striking pattern of stars within a larger constellation.
  • Degrees (measuring the sky): The sky is 360 degrees all the way around, which means roughly 180 degrees from horizon to horizon. It’s easy to measure distances between objects: Your fist on an outstretched arm covers about 10 degrees of sky.
  • Visual Magnitude: This is the astronomer’s scale for measuring the brightness of objects in the sky. The dimmest object visible in the night sky under perfectly dark conditions is about magnitude 6.5. Brighter stars are magnitude 2 or 1. The brightest objects get negative numbers. Venus can be as bright as magnitude minus 4.9. The full moon is minus 12.7 and the sun is minus 26.8.
  • Terminator: The boundary on the moon between sunlight and shadow.
  • Zenith: The point in the sky directly overhead.

Night Sky Observing Tips

  • Adjust to the dark: If you wish to observe faint objects, such as meteors or dim stars, give your eyes at least 15 minutes to adjust to the darkness.
  • Light Pollution: Even from a big city, one can see the moon, a handful of bright stars and sometimes the brightest planets. But to fully enjoy the heavens — especially a meteor shower, the constellations, or to see the amazing swath across the sky that represents our view toward the center of the Milky Way Galaxy — rural areas are best for night sky viewing.
  • If you’re stuck in a city or suburban area, a building can be used to block ambient light (or moonlight) to help reveal fainter objects. If you’re in the suburbs, simply turning off outdoor lights can help.
  • Prepare for skywatching: If you plan to be out for more than a few minutes, and it’s not a warm summer evening, dress warmer than you think necessary. An hour of observing a winter meteor shower can chill you to the bone. A blanket or lounge chair will prove much more comfortable than standing or sitting in a chair and craning your neck to see overhead.
  • Daytime skywatching: When Venus is visible (that is, not in front of or behind the sun) it can often be spotted during the day. But you’ll need to know where to look. A sky map is helpful. When the sun has large sunspots, they can be seen without a telescope. However, it’s unsafe to look at the sun without protective eyewear. See our video on how to safely observe the sun, or our safe sunwatching infographic.

Read previous post:
Our Galaxy’s Black Hole May Be Wormhole In Disguise

One of the most extraordinary objects in the Milky Way...

Take a Flight Through Our Universe

  The Sloan Digital Sky Survey III (SDSS-III) has released...

Graphics Compare Asteroid Sizes to Places on Earth

  So, how big is that space rock? When we...

Close