Celestial News: Seeking summer’s Southern stars

This portrait of the southern sky was taken from Yellowstone Nationwide Park, overlooking Yellowstone Lake, on June 26, 2022. Summer’s southern sky is dominated by the constellations of Sagittarius, Scorpius, Libra, Ophiuchus, Serpens, and Aquila. For this exact same look at of the sky, encounter south at about 11:00pm in early July and 10:00pm in mid-July.
Jimmy Westlake/Courtesy photograph

When the last rays of the summer sunshine fade from the evening sky, the misty star clouds of the Milky Way appear into perspective, arching large overhead like a colorless rainbow. Follow this milky path down to the south and there you will come across the zodiacal constellation of Sagittarius, the Archer.

Our ancient ancestors imagined a centaur in these stars — half male, fifty percent horse — holding a bow and arrow aimed at the coronary heart of the close by Scorpion. I obstacle anyone to glance at individuals stars and come across a centaur keeping a bow and arrow. As an alternative, most modern day sky watchers obtain it a great deal a lot easier to imagine the define of a teapot, shaped from 8 well known stars. The steamy star clouds of the Milky Way appear to be boiling appropriate out of the teapot’s spout, as it recommendations about to pour its scalding-scorching contents onto the tail of the Scorpion to the west.

Scorpius the Scorpion is formed like a large fishhook. His heart is marked by the purple huge star Antares, the brightest star in the southern sky. The two notable stinger stars at the suggestion of the Scorpion’s tail are in some cases known as the Cat’s Eyes.

Just west of Scorpius is a different constellation of the zodiac, Libra the Scales. Two thousand yrs ago, the stars of Libra belonged to Scorpius, forming his huge pincers. Libra’s two brightest stars still bear their historic Arabic names, Zubenelgenubi and Zubeneschamali, which means the Southern and Northern Claws of the Scorpion.

Standing over Scorpius is the celestial witch medical professional named Ophiuchus. In his fingers, he retains the serpent that taught him the solution of bringing the lifeless back to daily life. Serpens is the only constellation that is split into two unconnected sections, kind of like the point out of Michigan is split in two. Serpens Caput is the 50 % with the snake’s head and Serpens Cauda is the snake’s tail.

All of these constellations are connected mythologically to our wintertime constellation of Orion the Hunter. Right after Orion bragged that he could kill each individual animal on Earth if he wished to, Scorpius ambushed Orion and stung him on the foot, killing the mighty hunter. Sagittarius sought to avenge Orion’s murder by looking down the Scorpion and capturing him with his bow and arrow. Ophiuchus managed to deliver Orion again from the dead with the magic herb that the Serpent uncovered to him. Zeus positioned Scorpius and Orion in reverse components of the sky so the two could never be seen at the identical time. Ophiuchus stands on best of Scorpius to symbolize his ability about the Scorpion’s deadly sting. Sagittarius relentlessly chases the Scorpion throughout the sky, poking the Scorpion with his pointy arrow.

A single much more well known constellation occupies our summer southern sky – Aquila the Eagle. Glimpse for the bright star Altair, flanked on possibly facet by slightly fainter stars, reminiscent of the a few stars of Orion’s Belt.

For info about astronomy-associated activities in Steamboat Springs, which includes general public star parties at CMC’s Ball Observatory, make contact with physics and astronomy instructor Paul McCudden, at [email protected] or 970-870-4537 or pay a visit to the SKY Club web page at http://www.coloradomtn.edu/skyclub.

Jimmy Westlake is adjunct Professor of Bodily Sciences at Colorado Mountain Higher education and previous Director of the Rollins Planetarium at Young Harris Faculty in Ga and the St. Charles Parish Library Planetarium, in Luling, Louisiana. His “Celestial News” column appears month to month in the Steamboat Currently newspaper. Verify out Jimmy’s astrophotography internet site at http://www.jwestlake.com.

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