WHAT ARE THE CONSTELLATIONS

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1 CONSTELLATIONS

2 WHAT ARE THE CONSTELLATIONS In popular usage, the term constellation is used to denote a recognizable grouping of stars. Astronomers have redefined the constellations as 88 regions of the night sky, while referring to the groupings as asterisms. popular usage The constellation Orion astronomers usage 2

3 Star patterns named by ancient peoples after gods, goddesses, animals, monsters, and mythic heroes. The constellations used by Western Culture today originated in Mesopotamia around 3,000 B.C. ORIGINS

4 CELESTIAL MAP

5 3D CONSTELLATIONS The stars of a constellation only appear to be close to one another Usually, this is only a projection effect. The stars of a constellation may be located at very different distances from us.

6 STARS AND NAVIGATION Land marks - When people first started going out in boats they tended to stay close to shore so they could use landmarks to guide them.

7 CELESTIAL NAVIGATION As people ventured further (the Hawaiians 3000BC could travel over 1000km between islands) they needed to find other fixed marks, so they turned to the stars.

8 HOW DO WE KNOW WHERE WE ARE? X You are here. Huh?

9 THE CELESTIAL SPHERE The Celestial Sphere is an imaginary hollow globe with the Earth at its center, to which all the stars seen in the night sky appear to be fixed.

10 NORTH AND SOUTH CELESTIAL POLES The North Celestial Pole is the point on the celestial sphere directly above the Earth's North Pole. Similarly, the South Celestial Pole is directly above the Earth's South Pole. The star Polaris, in the constellation Ursa Minor, is located very close to the North Celestial Pole. Polaris is therefore also called the North Star.

11 ZENITH AND NADIR Zenith = Point on the celestial sphere directly overhead Nadir = Point on the c.s. directly underneath (not visible!) Celestial equator = projection of Earth s equator onto the c. s. North celestial pole = projection of Earth s north pole onto the c. s.

12 ANGULAR MEASURE IN THE SKY 360 o = A COMPLETE CIRCLE 1 o = 60 (minutes) 1 = 60 (seconds)

13 LATITUDE AFFECTS VISIBLE SKY What we see in the sky depends on our latitude. At the north pole, the north celestial pole is at the zenith. At the equator, the north celestial pole is at the horizon. The altitude of the north celestial pole = latitude.

14 RIGHT ASCENSION AND DECLINATION Declination (latitude) is measured from the Celestial Equator towards the North Celestial Pole. Right Ascension (longitude) is measured from the Vernal Equinox (see below). 14

15 THE NORTH CELESTIAL POLE The stars appear to circle around the North Celestial Pole (near Polaris) once in 24 hours. Stars within the angle of the observer's latitude away from the North Celestial Pole never rise or set. They are always above the horizon (circumpolar stars).

16 AUSTRALIAN VIEW OF THE SOUTH 16 CELESTIAL POLE In the Celestial Sphere picture, the stars all rotate from east to west about the line through the celestial poles. Thus, in Australia, near the Earth s south pole, the stars all appear to rotate about the South Celestial Pole.

17 THE APPARENT MOTION OF THE NIGHT SKY The motion of the stars in the night sky may be visualized as a rotation of the celestial sphere from east to west about a north-south axis. 17 Equator USA North Pole West West

18 CELESTIAL EQUATOR AND ECLIPTIC Since the Earth is considered to be at rest at the center of the Universe, the ecliptic is defined as the annual path of the Sun around the celestial sphere. 18

19 THE ECLIPTIC - HELIOCENTRIC VIEW 19 In the heliocentric view, the ecliptic is defined as the path of the Earth s orbit around the Sun. The Earth rotates from east to west, about an axis tilted by 23½ o from the normal to the ecliptic plane. 23½ o North-south rotational axis. Normal to the ecliptic.

20

21 READING THE LIGHT FROM THE STARS If we look at the sky, we see that different stars are different brightness, and even different colors. With the right instruments, astronomers can tell a lot about a star, just from the light. the direction and speed a star is moving its mass its brightness or luminosity its chemical composition its size its age its temperature its distance from us its stage of life how it makes its energy even whether it has companions or not (planets or other stars orbiting it)!

22 BRIGHTNESS OR MAGNITUDE Even thousands of years ago, ancient peoples noticed that the stars weren t all the same brightness. Hipparchus, a Greek philosopher, invented a system of magnitudes. He called the brightest stars in the sky (like Sirius), first class or first magnitude stars. The next brightest group of stars were 2 nd class or magnitude 2 stars, and so forth, down to magnitude 6 stars, which were just barely visible to the naked eye. Hipparchus also estimated that the brightest (mag. 1) stars were 100 times brighter than the faintest (mag. 6) stars.

23 MAGNITUDE SCALE Because Hipparchus called a difference of 5 magnitudes (from 1 to 6) equal to a 100-fold change in brightness, each change of one magnitude = 100 1/5 = change in brightness. In other words, a Mag. 1 star is times brighter than a Mag. 2 star, but (or 6.31 times) brighter than a Mag. 3 star.

24 APPARENT AND ABSOLUTE MAGNITUDE A star s apparent magnitude (m) is how bright it appears at the earth s surface. A star s absolute magnitude (M) is how bright it appears from a standard reference distance of 10 pc or 32.6 LY.

25 MAGNITUDE

26 CIRCUMPOLAR CONSTELLATIONS A Constellation that NEVER rises or sets as seen at a certain latitude Ursa Major Ursa Minor Cassiopeia Cepheus Draco Camelopardalis

27 13 Constellations of the Zodiac The constellations that lie along the ecliptic are collectively called the Zodiac. From the perspective of the Earth, The sun would be in different constellations of the Zodiac at different times of the year (if you could see the stars in daylight).

28 BIG DIPPER POINTERS The two pointer stars furthest from the handle of the Big Dipper point to Polaris (the North Star). The next two stars point in to Regulus, the brightest star in the constellation Leo. The pattern may appear upside-down because it rotates about Polaris.

29 THE WINTER TRIANGLE 29 The Winter Triangle connects three bright stars: Betelgeuse (in Orion), Procyon (in Canis Minor) and Sirius (in Canis Major). This triangle is almost equilateral, but slightly stretched in the direction of Sirius.

30 THE SUMMER TRIANGLE 30 The Summer Triangle connects three bright stars: Vega (in Lyra), Deneb (in Cygnus) and Altair (in Aquila). This triangle is stretched in the direction of Altair.

31 THE WINTER HEXAGON

32 THE GREEK ALPHABET Stars within a constellation are usually lettered from Alpha (α) to Omega (ω) roughly in order of brightness, but there are numerous exceptions. For instance, the stars of the Big Dipper are lettered clockwise around the bowl and then out the handle.

33 URSA MAJOR AND URSA MINOR

34 RESOURCES Live webcast

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