A Greek Letter for Every Star

Star maps and the Greek alphabet

Anybody understand Greek?

Astronomy names and designations

Astronomy questions and answers – The names and designations of the stars and celestial bodies in the night sky above your head were first officially documented around 1603. In this year, German mapmaker Johannes Bayer published his “Atlas of the Constellations”, in which he plotted the positions in the night sky of more than 2,000 celestial objects. Previous star charts in contrast designated stars according to their position within the mythological figures of constellations in the night sky.

Bayer’s Uranometria star classification system uses Greek letters to differentiate the varying brightness of stars in the night sky. Using Bayer’s system Alpha is normally used to designate a constellation’s brightest star, Beta to designate the second brightest in a constellation, and this trend continues through the Greek alphabet. Bayer would sometimes letter stars in a constellation sequentially as well and under this system, the stars of the Big Dipper, for example, are designed Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon, Zeta, and Eta.

Modern astronomers have made their own additions and tweaks to the star classification system in use today. Celestial Cartographers studying the night sky now use numbered characters as designators for stars and celestial objects in the night sky. They haven’t added any new Greek letters to the constellations in the night sky, so look for the greek letters listed below on star maps of the constellations in the night sky, and this will provide you with stars you can use as road markers on your “Journey to the Beginning of Space and Time”.

Astronomers used the Greek letters to designate objects in the night sky

Alpha

Beta

Gamma

Delta

Epsilon

Zeta

Eta

Theta

Iota

Kappa

Lambda

Mu

Nu

Xi

Omicron

Pi

Rho

Sigma

Tau

Upsilon

Phi

Chi

Psi

Omega

A greek letter for every star
Good old English! It’s in English, right?

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To be a Planet, or Not to be a Planet?

Astronomers are constantly rethinking old theories and designing new ones to fit new ideas

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Count the planets in the solar system and make an assessment of their various sizes and distances from Sol and the Earth as you leave on your “Journey to the Beginning of Space and Time”. You’ll find that the line between planet and smaller planetoids, like asteroids and meteorites, has yet to be firmly set in place in the astronomy books, and in the universe.

We were all taught during our school indoctrination of nine planets circling Sol at varying distances. Mercury and Venus lie closest to Sol, with the Earth, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn residing at greater distances from Sol, while Uranus, Neptune, and disputed Pluto orbit at the greatest distance on average as compared to the other planets. Millions of school and reference books, thousands of articles, and countless periodicals also include references to Pluto being officially recognized as the ninth planet in the solar system. The publishers of these publications will be calling for a rewrite of all of this material and the history books will have to be changed if some astronomers and space scientists have their way.

Planet X came spinning into the view of Caltech astronomer Michael Brown on July 29, 2005 and changed the way astronomers and star gazers think about Pluto and the definition of a planet. An icy, Kuiper Belt resident Michael named after Xena the warrior goddess of the famed television series, at least until the International Astronomical Union speaks on this matter, Planet x orbits Sol at a distance nearly twice as great as Pluto’s. Planet X’s 560-year orbit is also inclined to the ecliptic by nearly twice as much as Pluto’s, which results in Planet X being closer to Sol than Pluto during its orbit, at times.

Planet X is still a bit of an enigma to astronomers

Astronomy takes you to the Kuiper Belt
The largest Kuiper Belt objects compared

How much bigger is Planet X than Pluto? Astronomers have measured the brightness and distance of Planet X from Sol, as compared to objects of known brightness in the solar system. Based on their data and calculations, astronomers believe Planet X to be bigger than Pluto, but just how much bigger has yet to be firmly etched in stone by the various astronomical societies and agencies tasked with determining if Planet X is indeed bigger than Pluto and by how much. This fuzzy-news has pushed Pluto into tenth place in the nine planet race in the solar system and into second place in the size ranking of the objects in the Kuiper Belt and astronomers, and star gazers have only searched a small percentage of the Kuiper Belt for objects bigger than Pluto.

Will bigger objects than Planet X be discovered in the Kuiper Belt or somewhere on the outer fringes of the solar system? The first Kuiper Belt objects were viewed by star gazers and astronomers in the early 1990s, but since this time, larger and larger objects have been located in the Kuiper Belt. In 2002, an object half the size of Pluto was discovered floating in the Kuiper Belt, which astronomers named Quaoar. Just two years later, 2004DW and Sedna were discovered, each respectively two-thirds and three-quarters the size of Pluto. It wouldn’t be surprising, therefore, if star gazers and astronomers were to find an even larger object floating in the Kuiper Belt than Planet X at some point in the human “Journey to the Beginning of Space and Time”.

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Hubble has given us our best views of Pluto, so far. This photo shows Charon as well.
Compare the various sizes of the planets as you pass by
A distance object at best, Pluto looks quiet and serene here

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Red and Orange Fills September’s Night Sky

Journey to Red and Orange stars in September’s night sky

The colors of astronomy
Color like this only grows and expands the further you travel on your Journey to the Beginning of Space and Time

Fall is in full bloom in the Northern Hemispheres of planet Earth and lovers of the reds, oranges, and bright reds on the leaves of fall will enjoy the rich, warm and colorful hues in the night sky of September and October.

Astronomy News – If you’re heading out into the wild to enjoy Mother Nature’s bounty at this time of year? After a day walking through the forest watching the leaves on the trees turn color, from drab green to mixed shades of yellow, orange, and red. Take the time to lay back on the cold ground or your sleeping bag and check out the colors in the night sky. Even better, set up your binoculars or time machine to the stars, and enjoy the colors in the night sky by taking a journey to the beginning of space and time.”

Stargazers have witnessed the colorful displays in the night sky for generations and our ancestors surely spent many a night staring upwards in wonder at the various colors they could see in the night sky. It was 19th-century Irish astronomer John Birmingham, who first made note of the colorful hues of light in the night sky. His ideas and the thoughts of Danish astronomer Hans Schjellerup, who had compiled a catalog of red stars in 1866, were mentioned in Birmingham’s work “The Red Stars: Observations and Catalog”. This catalog contains a total of 658 red and orange stars colorful enough to delight the human senses and make your imagination dance a lively step.

Reading the introduction of Birmingham’s catalog of red and orange stars, one notes he mentions a region of space and time he refers to as “The Red Region”. This region includes parts of the Milky Way Galaxy, between Aquila, Lyra, and Cygnus, that are filled with orange and red stars that will make the eyes dance and entice the human imagination to create possibilities beyond anything we as humans have imagined.

The colors of astronomy in September are a highlight amateur astronomers will love

September is the perfect time for you to board your time machine to the stars and journey to the beginning of space and time to experience the Red Region. The Red Region will be well above the southern horizon once the sun goes down. This region of space and time has eye-gems for stargazers to view in September, with reds and oranges that will make lovers of fall smile, and turn up their color sensitivity. The colorful stars in the Red Region warm sequentially through spectral classes: G (yellow), K (orange), M (red) and rare carbon class C (deep red). Astronomers have subdivided star classes from 0 to 9, with a G9 star being a little closer to orange than yellow, and a K5 star having a color somewhere between orange and red.

All-star gazers will see varying hues of red, orange, and yellow during their journey to the beginning of space and time that will depend on each star gazers own particular biology. In fact, we all view color slightly differently, so individual star gazers shouldn’t rely on a star’s spectral class for a visual clue to a star’s true color. Take, for example, the strikingly colorful, double star Albireo (Beta Cygni) in Cygnus. Stargazers through the centuries have described its magnitude 3.1 K3 primary star as yellow, topaz, gold and orange. Its magnitude 5.1 B9 (blue-white) secondary star (34″ away) on the other hand, has been described as deep-blue, azure, sapphire and even green.

The perception of color for humans is subjective and depends on varying individual parameters that can also be a product of physiological and psychological effects, such as the strong contrasting colors of a double star, like Albireo. The colors star gazers view through their time machine to the stars can also be obscured by dust and pollutants in the air, which will redden a star’s color. Stars that are low on the horizon, in comparison to higher stars, will also appear redder to viewers, just like the sun turns redder as it falls toward the horizon.

Orange, red, and yellow hues abound in September

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