Tonights View of the Sky – October 8th
Another amazing clear night to view the stars and with no moon at 22.00 so many more stars were visible.
When I was younger I used to think how great I was when I could pick out the North star and could identify Ursa Major and Ursa Minor, but it is only now that I realise it was easy when you are in the city as so many stars are just not visible due to light pollution so only the brightest shine through.
Tonight I went out and with no moon to use as a pointer I decided to look for the North star Polaris. This proved far more difficult than I remember, there were just so many stars and initially trying to identify the big dipper was just not happening, but as my eyes adjusted I could start to see the shapes and eventually got to my first stop Polaris, the North Star.
From here I looked around for my buddy Capella from my last nights viewing, according to the star chart it should have being to the right of Ursa major and up a little in a north easterly direction, but unfortunately my view was blocked by a tree. Without any real plan of what I was looking for I decided to just try and identify two more of the brightest objects in the sky. So looking West I noticed a bright star high in the sky and after much consultation with the sky chart I identified it as Vega, and in south westerly direction a little lower in the sky I spotted a belt of 3 stars, the middle one which shone brightest, this I discovered is Altair.
The band of 3 stars reminded me of Orion’s belt another constellation I could easily spot as a youngster, on consulting the chart again I was relieved to find that it was below the horizon and so not visible at this time.
All this without a telescope and although I am betraying the name of the blog slightly (View From a Scope) I am beginning to understand why so many astronomers recommend getting to know the sky with the naked eye before going for a telescope.
Polaris, is estimated to be at a distance of 434 light years from Earth. It is called the North Star because it lines up almost exactly with Earths celestial poles, which is why when you see time delayed photos of the night sky they usually are done by Â pointing at a centre spot (Polaris)Â and all other stars leave a trail in circles around it.
AltairÂ is 16.7 light years from earth and is the 12th brightest star in the sky. Altair rotates very fast and because of this its poles are flattened. It is one of the closest stars to the Earth that is visible with the naked eye.
Vega is 25 light years from Earth and is the fifth brightest in the sky. In the Northern Hemisphere it is the second brightest. Vega was actually the northern star in 12,000 BC and will be again around 13,272 AD due to changing declination of the earth. There is a ring around the star that was most likely caused by the collision of planetary objects. Astronomers believe that due to irregularities in this ring that a planet the size of Jupiter is in orbit around Vega.