Monday, November 30, 2020

The Celestial Family

High in the Northeastern Sky 9 PM November 5th. Submitted

High in the Northeastern Sky 9 PM November 5th. Submitted

Tonight we are returning to a region of the sky we have visited before in various columns to pay closer attention to the wonders found here. Andromeda hangs from a corner of the Great square of Pegasus. She was rescued from the sea monster Cetus by her soon-to-be husband Perseus now just below her constellation. Just to her left are her parents Cassiopeia and Cepheus. (The sea monster still lurks nearby).

Looking at the chart you will see a star named Algol in Perseus; loosely translated from ancient Arabic the name means “the demon”. To see perhaps why the Arabs chose that name, locate the star carefully in the sky relative to others around it. Note particularly that Algol is about as bright as Almaak and a lot brighter than the brightest star in Triangulum. Now check out the star in the early morning of November 10 at exactly 4:03AM. By that time of morning Perseus has rotated about a third of the way around Polaris. What has happened to Algol? You have another chance to check out the star on November 15th at 9:41PM if you don’t want to get out of bed in the morning.

About 7 degrees to the left of Mirach (the middle star of Andromeda) lies the Great Nebula in Andromeda. It’s the closest large galaxy to the Milky Way and is visible to the naked eye as a hazy patch. The Andromeda Galaxy is about three times the apparent width of the Full Moon but you can’t see the full extent of the galaxy even with binoculars. The binoculars do show the core of the galaxy well as a bright oval.

Halfway between Cassiopeia and Perseus is the famous Double Cluster, barely visible to the naked eye as foggy patch. Through a small telescope some hundreds of stars can be seen.

No doubt you have noticed the sky chart is published with the sky white and the stars black – this helps you to see the chart outside in the dark. Use a red flashlight to read it. Instead of buying a red one, you can make one by using red cellophane or even red paint. If you do buy one, the flashlights using red LED’s are the best. See you next time!

Mr. Usher is Vice President of the Everglades Astronomical Society which meets every second Tuesday at 7:00PM at the Norris Center, Cambier Park, Naples.

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