I’m going to try something a little different, but I think this will be useful for other amateur astronomers, not to mention myself. I’m going to look at some constellations and what’s going on within and around them, from our earthly perspective.
Right off the bat, though, I want to be clear that these posts have NOTHING to do with astrology. If you think astrology is great and adds something to your life, that’s awesome, but it’s a belief in something supernatural. Period. There is no science in it, regardless of the claims some astrologers make. I’m also not interested in debating this and if you try to tell me the gravity of Mercury is ruining your day, I’m going to refer you to the math showing that the people around you exceed any gravitational influence a distant planet could possibly have, much less a star. Why small changes in gravity would do anything to the events of your day seems like a bigger mystery anyway, but I digress. It’s magic and there’s no compelling reason to think it isn’t totally fake. By all means believe in it if you wish, but leave me out of it.
We have several constellations visible on a clear night in the northern hemisphere, some year round, some during certain seasons. Organized as patterns of stars that seem bright from earth, we’ve been assigning them names and imagining them as gods and beasts for as long as people could do such things. In our modern world, they’re now very useful for keeping different areas of the night sky organized. If you aren’t familiar with the constellations, the night sky is just a random bunch of little white lights.
The first constellation I’d like to look at is Aries, the ram.
Or maybe it’s just a golden fleece, laid flat, from the side. It can be drawn with more lines and have a picture of a sheep superimposed over it too. Either way, it’s got some stuff going on. Near the star Sharatan, one of the brighter ones marking the head, is NGC 772, a nice spiral galaxy that’s visible as a fuzzy patch in 4-5″ scopes. Just “in front” of that is Gamma Arietis, which is a triple star system, though you’ll only see two of them. It has the distinction of being on of the first double stars to be discovered. Lambda Arietis is also a double star and delta Arietis has an orange color that would be interesting to observe. There are some other observable, but potentially challenging, galaxies near by as well, if you’re into that.
So, there you go, one constellation, a bunch of cool stuff. I’m going to do these posts sort-of alphabetically and see how it goes.
*This guy isn’t (wasn’t) technically an astrologer either, but he has crazy hair and looks funny.