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1 Jan/12/2006 Star Maps and Constellations Page SC- 1

2 Jan/12/2006 Star Maps and Constellations Page SC- 2 Star Maps and Constellations Except for the last 400 years, all observations of the "universe" were done by naked eye. Surprisingly, there is a great deal that can be learned by simply "stargazing". In fact, until you've become visually familiar with the sky, a telescope will not be of much use, as you won't know where to point it. The first stage of any exploration is making a map. The science of mapping is called Cosmography, where the Greek root word cosmos refers to describing the order and harmony of the universe. The focus of this chapter is to learn about maps of the celestial sphere, how we identify and name stars (and how to find them in the sky). A. Asterism & Constellations On a dark clear night, the sky seems to be a random jumble of stars. One of the most basic human traits however, is to make order out of chaos. We look for patterns. The analytic will see symbolic or geometric grouping (e.g. looks like a "W" or a triangle), the poetic will see epic heroes. These "groupings" of stars are called asterisms. Many are "natural" as evidenced by divergent cultures having many of the same stars grouped together (in some cases, even with similar interpretations). 1. Ancient History: The first recorded names for asterisms come from the Babylonians about 3000 B.C. There were originally just four "signs", associated with the position of the sun for the four seasons: Taurus the Bull (spring), Leo the Lion (Summer), Scorpius the Scorpion (fall) and Aquarius the water bearer (winter). Early man's agrarian culture was motivated to map the heavens to have a good calendar to know when to plant. Egyptians borrowed the names from the Babylonians, with the analogous motivation being to predict the annual flooding of the Nile. The Greeks (being nomadic shepherds up at night watching the flock) greatly added to the number of asterisms, intertwined with mythological (and spiritual) interpretations, often overlapping. The remaining asterisms (mostly southern sky and some faint ones between major asterisms) were added in the 17 th and 18 th centuries. 2. Mythology: Writing, the physical symbolizing of ideas is a relatively recent invention (so is literacy). Previous to 3000 years ago, most ideas were passed from generation to generation by verbal stories. This is probably the origin of the Greeks' mapping of the sky via mythological themes. You'll find nearly all the characters of a mythological legend closely related in their positions in the sky. Indeed, if you know the stories, it becomes easy to remember the meaning and positions of many of the asterisms. As an example let's review the "Orion Story". Orion, the great hunter, roamed the earth with his two companions, the Big and Little Dogs (Canis Major, and Canis Minor). His egotism offended the goddess Juno, so one day while he was hunting a rabbit (Lepus the Hare) she sent a scorpion (Scorpius) after him. Orion was stung on the heel and died.

3 Jan/12/2006 Star Maps and Constellations Page SC- 3 The Famous physician Aesculapius managed to bring Orion back to life. Also known as Ophiuchus, or the "serpent bearer", Aesculapius 1 got his medical secrets from snakes, hence he carries one around with him in the sky (Constellation Serpens). Now the King of the dead (Pluto or Hades) didn't like mere mortals stealing souls back from his underworld kingdom, so he had his brother Jupiter (Zeus) throw a thunderbolt and kill Orion for good. All the figures of the story were put into the sky by the gods. Scorpius (Scorpio) is in the summer (evening) sky, with a guard on it in the form of the Archer, Sagittarius, just to the East. Ophiuchus is just above Scorpius, with his snake around him (in two parts, Serpens Caput = head of snake, Serpens Cauda = tail of snake). To keep Orion safe from Scorpius, he was put in the opposite side of the sky (the winter evening sky). The hare Lepus he was hunting is just below him, while his two dogs (Canis Major and Canis Minor) are to the East. 3. Division of the Sky into Constellations A constellation contains one or more asterisms (star groups) plus the surrounding region of the dark sky. Much the way that the United States is divided into 50 states, the sky is divided into 88 such constellations (i.e. regions). Each star technically belongs to just one constellation (although traditionally some stars are "shared" by overlapping mythological pictures). The first really accurate map, which had about 1022 stars grouped into 48 constellations, was drawn by the Greek astronomer Claudius Ptolemy (150 A.D.?), the "Almagest". It was more than 1500 years before more constellations were "added" to the sky. The German Astronomer Johann Bayer ( ) in his famous star chart of 1603, "Uranometria" defined 12 more constellations, mostly in southern sky [n.b. Apus, Chamaeleon, Hydrus, Musca, Phoenix, Volans and Triangulum Australis]. Three faint constellations inbetween the major Greek ones were added in 1624 by German Astronomer Jakob Bartsch (n.b. Camelopardalis). The German astronomer Johannes Hevelius (noted for mapping of the moon) added 7 more around 1687 (n.b. Lynx, Scutum & Lacerta). The French astronomer Nicolas Louis de Lacaille was noted for mapping the southern sky and adding 14 southern constellations (n.b. Circinus, Caelum, Fornax, Horologium, Mensa, Octans & Pyxis in the years ). The remaining few were named by various astronomers, along with some divisions into smaller groups [n.b. Ptolemy's Argo Navis or "the Argonaut's ship", into Carina the keel, Puppis the stern, Pyxis the compass and Vela the sails]. The final definitions were set by the IAU (International Astronomical Union) in a conference in 1930, bringing the total to 88 constellations. Boundary lines were drawn in a zig-zag fashion (to fit the "pictures") along North-South and East-West lines for the year of Since that time precession has skewed the lines somewhat so that they no longer are aligned NS or EW. 1 Asklepios, Greek god of medicine, can be traced back to the first recorded man of science, the Egyptian physician and architect Imhotep (2900 B.C.). This makes it the only constellation representing a real historical person.

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6 Jan/12/2006 Star Maps and Constellations Page SC- 6 B. Star Names 2 To identify a certain star we need some sort of naming system. Since there are a variety of methods which are employed, it can be rather confusing. It is probably best to summarize them by their chronology. 1. Ancient Names: Most of the bright star have individual names. The names are often related to the part of the "picture". For example the star Alhena in Gemini means "mark", pertaining to a mark on the foot of Gemini twin Pollux. Another example is Deneb, which means "tail". Hence Denebola is "tail of the Lion" (Leo), Deneb Algedi is "tail of the sea goat" Capricornus, and Denebokab is "Tail of the Eagle" Aquila. Some names seem to have nothing to do with the constellation. For example, in Cancer the Crab, the star Asellus Borealis means the "Northern Ass" (i.e donkey). Obviously this doesn't have anything to do with a crab, it's an alternative (older?) interpretation of the constellation. Often times the name of the star is Arabic, which will have to do then with an Arabic interpretation of the constellation. 3 In fact you'll note that the majority of star names are Arabic in origin. Further, a disproportionate number (almost a fourth) begin with the letter "A". 2. Bayer-Lacaille Notation: The first star catalog of Hipparchus listed over 1026 stars, designating them by their relative brightness within each constellation (e.g. Leo's brightest star is Regulus) since it was (and is) impractical to use names for the dimmer stars. The method invented by Bayer in 1601 (and still used in visual star maps) designates a star in a constellation by a lower case Greek letter (see Table SC-III), followed by the genitive form of the constellation. In general the letters are assigned in order of brightness beginning with Alpha = α. For example, Alpha Centauri (abbreviated α-cen) is the brightest star in the constellation Centaurus, while Beta Centauri or "β-cen" is the second brightest. However, in some cases (n.b. Ursa Major), Bayer named the stars not in order of brightness, but in order of their relative locations. What happens when you have more than 24 stars in the constellation? You run out of Greek letters! The astronomer Lacaille extended Bayer's notation by using lower case (and some upper case) Latin letters. Although some of Lacaille's notation is still used, mostly you'll see Flamsteed's number notation. 3. Flamsteed Number Notation: The first Royal Astronomer of England, John Flamsteed ( ) published a famous star catalog using his number notation. Starting from the West end of a constellation, he numbered the visible (naked-eye) stars in order of increasing Right Ascension (celestial longitude). For example, Vega, the brightest star in Lyra the Harp, is denoted Alpha Lyrae (α Lyr) in the Bayer notation, or 3 Lyr in the Flamsteed notation. Most modern charts will use the Bayer notation as far as it goes, and then convert to the Flamsteed notation for stars that don't have Greek letters (see for example figure 1). A few stars that Flamsteed missed will have Lacaille letters. 2 There has been a recent "scam" on star names. Several companies have been "claiming" to officially name (faint) stars after people for a fee. The only official organization to grant star names is the International Astronomical Union. [Reference: "Tarnished Stars", Sky and Telescope, p. 317 (1985).] 3 The stars Asellus Australis and Asellus Borealis are the asses ridden by Bacchus and Silenus in their battle with the Titans. The Praesepe of Cancer is then interpreted to be the manger for the asses.

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8 Jan/12/2006 Star Maps and Constellations Page SC- 8 Some of the stars have notations that seem inconsistent. For example, there is no Gamma Aurigae. The reason is that this star (common name El Nath) is shared by Taurus and Auriga, so Bayer double denoted it as Gamma Aurigae and also as Beta Tauri. The IAU conference of 1930 defined the constellation boundaries such that each star can only belong to one constellation. This star now belongs to Taurus, so there is no Gamma Aurigae any more. Similar inconsistencies can be found in the Flamsteed numbers. Table SC-III THE GREEK ALPHABET Upper Lower NAME Upper Lower NAME Case Case Case Case Α α alpha Ν ν nu Β β beta Ξ ξ xi Γ γ gamma Ο ο omicron δ delta Π π pi Ε ε epsilon Ρ ρ rho Ζ ζ zeta Σ σ sigma Η η eta Τ τ tau Θ θ theta ϒ υ upsilon Ι ι iota Φ φ phi Κ κ kappa Χ χ chi Λ λ lambda Ψ ψ psi Μ µ mu Ω ω omega C. Magnitudes Stars are not all the same brightness. The Greek astronomer Hipparchus ( B.C.) invented the scheme of classifying stars by their brightness where the brightest were first magnitude, the next brightest second magnitude, and the faintest visible stars were sixth magnitude. 1. Definition Modern measurements found some stars (e.g. Sirius, Altair) to be even brighter than first magnitude, so numbers "less" than 1 have to be used. For example, Vega has a magnitude of 0, meaning it is brighter than a first magnitude star. The brightest star is Sirius, with a magnitude of - 1.5, even brighter than Vega. The moon on this scale is -12.5, the sun (see Table SC-VI). Polaris was originally defined to be m=+2, but was later found to be a variable star. Now the magnitude scale is defined by a group of northern stars called the "North Polar Sequence". Herschel showed that the eye does not respond to brightness linearly, i.e. it does not perceive an object twice as bright to be twice as bright. Instead, an object which is 100 times brighter is perceived to be only 5 magnitudes brighter. The formal relationship between (perceived) magnitude difference " m" and the actual brightness ratio "r" is described by the Norman Pogson equations, and summarized in Table SC-V.

9 Jan/12/2006 Star Maps and Constellations Page SC- 9 m = -2.5 Log 10 (r) r = 10 -( m/2.5) (7b) (7b) TABLE SC-V Magnitude TABLE SC-VI Apparent Magnitudes Difference vs. Luminosity Ratio of Various Objects Perceived Actual Object Apparent Magnitude Luminosity Name Magnitude Difference= m Ratio=r m times Sun times Moon times Venus times Vega times Polaris times Uranus +6. Visual Limit times Pluto times Kitt Peak Limit times Space Tel. Limit Magnitude Ranges With telescopes (or cameras) we can see fainter objects due to the light amplification. The practical limit right now is about m=+25, or about 100 million times fainter than the eye can see. The magnitudes of various common objects are listed in table SC-VI. There are only 2 stars of magnitude -1, only 5 of m=0, and approximately 20 of m=+1. There are many more fainter stars: 65 of m=+2, approximately 200 of m=+3, and 500 of m=+4. The numbers increase for very faint stars, 1,400 for m=+5, more than 5,000 for m=+6 and 20,000 for m=+7. The brightness of stars will be represented on maps by the sizes of the dots (figure 1). Note that most maps are "negatives", where dark dots represent stars, on a white background. Note that the eye can see over a tremendous range of about 30 magnitudes from faint star to sunlight; a factor of a trillion times as much light! No man-made instrument can do this (e.g. camera). A good example is viewing Jupiter and its four major moons. The eye can see all, but a camera on short exposure to get a good picture of the planet will not record the moons. Using a longer exposure to get the moons to show up, the planet will be over-exposed ("burnt out"). 3. Limiting Magnitude Some eyes can see down to m=+7, but the assumed limit of the eye is m=+6. However, for the fainter stars (m=4,5,6) averted vision must be used. This is because the center of the eye's retina (called the fovea) does not respond to lower light levels. The retina of the eye has two type of receptors, cones (color vision) and rods (night & black & white vision). The cones are concentrated mostly in the center of our field of vision (e.g. the fovea), but don't work well in faint light below 3 rd magnitude. The rods work down to 6 th magnitude (some eyes can go down to m=+7), but nature has placed them near the edge of our visual field, with nearly none in the fovea. To see a faint star, look slightly above or below it (which then uses the rods of your eye).

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11 Jan/12/2006 Star Maps and Constellations Page SC- 11 One confusing point is that a constellation won't look the same under different sky conditions. For example, on a dark clear night in a small town, the constellation Gemini would appear with fourth magnitude stars easily visible. If you were surrounded by more light (street lights, or the moon up in the sky) you might only see down to 3rd magnitude. For a full moon, you might only see first and second magnitudes, making the constellation virtually unrecognizable. You must practice seeing it in all its forms, as sky conditions are seldom ideal. How you visualize the "lines" is up to you. Figure 8: Magnitude Symbols Use in Norton s Sky Atlas D. STAR MAPS Since the sky looks like a giant sphere (called the Celestial Sphere or Firmament), making a map of the sky is similar to making a map of the spherical earth. For that reason, celestial star maps have similar features (like an equator, longitude and latitude lines), and similar problems (n.b. distortion). There are a few subtle differences. The first is that East and West are reversed! Why? Because when you look at the earth you are looking down, but star maps are meant to be held over your head while looking up.

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13 Jan/12/2006 Star Maps and Constellations Page SC- 13 (c). Elevation To fully describe a location in three-dimensional space, one must have 3 coordinates. The third one is the radius which defines the distance from the center of the earth to the point in question. However, since the earth is a ball, all cities will be just about the same distance from the center of the earth. The small variations in this distance is due to land features such as mountains. The average distance is called sea level (the level of the ocean). Elevation is defined to the height of the city above sea level. For example, the Physics building roof at UC Davis is about 54 meters above sea level. 2. Celestial Cartography To an observer on the earth, the sky appears to rotate around the celestial poles (e.g. North Celestial pole is near Polaris, the north star). These poles lie directly above the poles of the earth. Similarly, the celestial coordinate system is simply the projection of the geographic system of latitude and longitude onto the celestial sphere. (a). Declination The fundamental circle in this case is the Equinoctial, or Celestial Equator, which is simply the projection of the geographic equator onto the celestial sphere. The coordinate for the parallels of declination is called Declination (symbol Dec. or δ), and is analogous to geographic latitude in definition and measure (e.g. measured in degrees). Flor example, the North Star (Polaris) has δ=+90, while the Equinoctial (Celestial Equator) has δ= *Recently the IAU has adopted the standard of positive longitudes being easth, negative west, so the longitude in decimal would be degrees. **Hipparchus invented the idea of Longitude and Latitude (I think, need to check this!)

14 Jan/12/2006 Star Maps and Constellations Page SC- 14 (b) Right Ascension The second great circles are called Hour Circles (or Celestial Meridians ). The coordinate associated with them is called Right Ascension (symbol R.A. or α), and is analogous to geographic longitude. The Right Ascension is almost always measured in hours (instead of degrees) because of the relation to time. For example, a star which is 1 hour further east of another star (but at the same declination) will set 1 hour later. The conversion between measuring angles in time units instead of degrees is quite easy. A 360 degree circle is equivalent to 24 hours. Thus we have that, 15 degrees = 1 hour 1 degree = 4 minutes 1 arc minute= 4 seconds We found that the definition of 0 degrees longitude was arbitrary (defined to go through Greenwich). The origin of Right Ascension (i.e. the hour circle with 0 hours) is defined to be the place where the sun crosses the equator at the vernal equinox (formally known as the ascending node of the sun or the first point of Aries, even though its no longer in Aries, but in the constellation of Pisces). The hour circle which passes through 0 hours, through the pole, and down the other side of the sphere at 12 hours is called the Equinoctial Colure. When the sun crosses the Equinocital Colures, its called an equinox. The hour circle which is at 6 hours, passes through the pole, and is 18 hours on the other side is called the Solstitial Colure. The sun passes through these at the summer and winter solstices. 3. Angular Size The size of any object in the sky is expressed Table IV Sample Stars in fig 6 in degrees (of arc). The moon and the sun for ======================= example are about ½ degree (30 or 30 arc minutes) Name Dec RA in size. A rule of thumb is that your thumb at arm s length is about 2 degrees wide, a fingertip at arm s alpha 30 2 h length is about 1 degree wide, and your fist would beta 0 2 h be about 10 degrees. An average constellation gamma 0 4 h is on the order of 30 degrees in size. delta 30 4 h

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16 Jan/12/2006 Star Maps and Constellations Page SC- 16 The coordinates on maps can be thus used to give you an idea "how big" an asterism is in the sky. Consider the stars shown in Figure 6b (Mercator Map). The "distance" between "Alpha" and "Beta" is exactly 30, where Alpha is due north of Beta. On a Mercator map (a projection of the celestial sphere onto a cylinder, shown in figure 6a), the four stars Alph, Beta, Gamma and Delta make a perfect "square" asterism, which we will call Pezaglis (after who?). We see that the east-west distance between Beta and Gamma (on the equator) is the same as between Alpha and Beta, hence is also 30. If we tried to figure it out with coordinates, we see they are separated by 2 hours. At the equator each hour is equivalent to 15, 24 hours=360, or 1 h =15, (4 m =1 ) (2) However, east-west distances are greatly distorted by the spherical nature of the problem. A more correct map is given by an orthographic projection (fig. 7a). The map generated from this method gives a truer representation of the constellation. For example, in (fig. 7b), we see that alpha and delta are closer together than gamma and beta, even though both are separated by the same 2 hours in right ascension. The problem is that the Mercator map misleadingly represents hour circles a parallel lines, while we know in fact they must all converge and meet at the poles. Thus the further we get away from the equator, the more distorted a Mercator map is (in the east-west direction). If orthographic maps are so good, why don t we use them exclusively? The cost of such a map is you can only show a small region of the sky, and you can t paste the maps together to make a full map of the sky. In contrast, you CAN show the entire sky on a Mercator map (albeit it will be distorted near the poles). Usually what is done is to have a combination map. A Mercator map is used to represent between -60 and +60 degrees declination (where the distortion will be a maximum about a factor of 2). For the higher declinations(latitudes), an orthographic map is used, centered on the pole. In this context they are known as polar projection maps. The pole is at the center, and as you move further out, the distortion increases.

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