Class Note for PTYS 206 at UA
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Date Created: 02/06/15
OBSERVING THE SKY THE BIRTH OF ASTRONOMY PART I INTRODUCTION TO THE SKY January 18 2005 Chapter 2 Pages 18 29 Thursday Chapter 2 Pages 29 41 I Patterns in the sky constellations A GreeldRoman constellations and other myths and legends B Creation of Universe Earth Sun Moon stars C Stories with moral lesson II Motion and cycles A Cycles lunar phases daynight B Importance time Big Dipper seasons Big Dipper Scorpius harvestplant Pleiades II Size and shape of stars on charts III Asterism vs constellation Pleiades BigLittle Dipper vs Ursa Major Ursa Minor Big and Little Bear Winter Hexagon Auriga Gemini Canis Minor Canis Major Orion Taurus IV Orion measuring angles V 3D nature of constellations THE WINTERSPRING SKY The brightest stars of the winterearly spring sky see chart below are found in the following constellations Orion the hunter Auriga the charioteer Taurus the bull Canis Major the big dog Gemini the twins Canis Minor the little dog These constellations can be found almost directly overhead at 900 pm There are 88 officially designated constellations The area of the sky surrounding and including the constellation is called by the constellation s name This helps astronomers describe the locations of objects in the sky The brightest star in Orion is Rigel the brightest star in Taurus is Aldebaran and the brightest stars in Gemini are Pollux and Castor the brightest star in Auriga is Capella the brightest star in Canis Major is Sirius the brightest star in Canis Minor is Procyon When connected the seven brightest stars in these six constellations form an asterism called the Winter Hexagon An asterism is an easily recognized shape made from the brightest stars of one or more constellations Sirius Procyon and Betelgeuse the second brightest star in Orion form an asterism known as the Winter Triangle From a dark site the Milky Way can be seen between Sirius and Procyon In some Native American sky lore the Milky Way is thought to be a trail of cornmeal spilled by a dog Sirius in Canis Major represents the mischievous dog In ancient Arabian sky lore the Milky Way represents a river that separates two sisters One sister is represented by Sirius and the other by Procyon 2FUFOZSf23doc 1 7172010 1 02 PM The Pleiades or Seven Sisters appears within the constellation Taurus The Pleiades is actually an open star cluster which is a group of stars that formed within a nebula The Pleiades usually appears as a fuzzy patch but most people can distinguish 5 or more individual stars even from a moderately dark site The Hyades is another open star cluster which makes up the face of Taurus Aldebaran is a redorange giant star within this cluster and is often called the eye of Taurus Many socalled stars are actually double stars Double stars are actually two stars orbiting around a common center They appear as a single star without the aid of a telescope Capella Sirius and Procyon are double stars Castor is a multiple star three double stars in one Pollux the other twin of Gemini is a single yellow giant star which appears even brighter than Castor s six stars Looking north at about 900 you will see the circumpolar constellations These are the constellations that appear to circle Polaris the North Star The W shape of Cassiopeia the queen is upside down now looking more like an M Cepheus the king is below Cassiopeia It is shaped like a house with the point of the roof approximately toward Polaris Ursa Major the great bear is visible to the north with the handle pointing toward the horizon From a very dark site Ursa Minor the small bear may be visible below Polaris Within these constellations there are two familiar asterisms the Big Dipper in Ursa Major and the Little Dipper in Ursa Minor The bowl of the Big Dipper is formed by four prominent stars which also form the rear portion of the bear s body The handle is formed by three prominent stars which form the bear s tail From even a moderately dark site a second star can be seen near the center handle star These stars are Alcor and Mizar The best known star in the Little Dipper is at the end of its handle Polaris the North Star or Pole Star Its overall shape is similar to the Big Dipper except that its handle curves in the opposite direction By 1000 Leo the lion is rising in the East The head and neck of Leo look like a backwards question mark If you imagine someone poking holes in the bottom of the bowl of the Big Dipper the water would drip onto Leo s back Regulus is the brightest star in Leo The Ten Brightest Stars in the Winter Sky Asterisms and Their Constellations Star Constellation Asterism Constellations Sirius Canis Maj or Big Dipper Ursa Major Capella Auriga Little Dipper Ursa Minor Rigel Orion Winter Hexagon Auriga Taurus Orion Procyon Canis Minor Canis Maj or Canis Betelgeuse Orion Minor Gemini Aldeberan Taurus Winter Triangle Canis Maj or Canis Pollux Gemini Minor Orion Adhara Canis Maj or Orion s Belt Orion Castor Gemini M W Cassiopeia Bellatrix Orion Question Mark Leo 2FUFOZSf23doc 2 7172010 102 PM
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