Apart from stars there are many more interesting things to look at in the night sky.Most of these are know as Messier objects.There are 110 such objects and in this post i'll be telling you about one such Messier object known as M45 or Pleiades.It is an open star cluster containing seven stars that is located in the constellation Taurus.It is located on the extreme right side of the star Aldebaran which is a red giant and also one of the brightest star in the Taurus constellation.Pleiades looks somewhat like the Ursa major except for the fact that it is way small and you need a clear sky with minimum distractions to spot it.Pleiades consists of nine stars(it is difficult to find all the nine stars....although you can spot around six of them).These are Atlas,Merope,Electra,Maia,Taygeta,and Alcyone.M45 ,it has an apparent magnitude of 1.6.Now if any stellar object has an apparent magnitude between -38 and 6 then it is visible to the naked eye whereas anything above 6 would be invisible to the naked eye.Now the apparent magnitude of the Sun as seen from the Earth is -26.74.Apparent magnitude of Sirius is -1.47.The apparent magnitude of Aldebaran is between 0.75-0.95.So in short M45 is quite a bright object.
If you want to know more about the Pleiades then go to:- www.youtube.com/watch?v=t31lVCPMEZc
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OK..... I have many friends who look up in the sky point at the brightest star (mostly Sirius) amd claim that it is Polaris.......Although Polaris is a bright star it is not THE BRIGHTEST star in the sky........It is quite easy to recognize Polaris, first try to recognize the Orion constellation.Once you've found Orion join the two stars Betelgeuse and Rigel and extend the line in Betelgeuse's direction, first star that you would encounter would be Castor of the Gemini constellation extend the line further north and you would see a bright star now this is Polaris......One of the ways of conforming the star is, stare at it for a while and you would notice that it stands almost motionless in the sky and the other stars seem to revolve round it. If you are standing at the north pole than you would notice that Polaris is exactly overhead i.e. at 90 degree whereas if you are standing at the equator then you would notice that the star is exactly over the horizon i.e. at 0 degree which means that one can measure the latitude of a place by measuring the apparent angel between Polaris and the horizon. The most preferred way to recognize this star is by connecting the two stars of the Ursa major constellation,Merak and Dubhe and extending the line. The first faint star lying on this line is Polaris. Ursa major can also be used for recognizing other constellation for instance if we join the star Megrez and Phecda and then extend the line then the first bright star lying on the line would be Regulus which is also the alpha star of the Leo constellation. If we join the star Alioth, Mizar, Alkaid and extend the arc then the first bright red colored star lying on the arc would be Arcturus which is also the alpha star of the Bootes constellation. If we extend the arc further then we'll reach a blue colored star named Spica which is the alpha star of the Virgo constellation. There is a constellation present right below the arc of Ursa major known as Cannes Venatici. This constellation contains only two stars Cor carolli (binary star) and Chara. Cor carolli being the alpha star. There are many spectacular things to look for in the Ursa major constellation few of the objects that one can track using a telescope are :-
(M 81 present on the lower left side apparent magnitude 6.94 and M 82 on the upper right corner apparent magnitude 8.41)
M 97 (my personal favourite) A.M.-9.9 also known as the Owl nebula
M 109 A.M.-10.6
M 108 A.M.-10.7
M 101(also known as the Pinwheel galaxy) A.M.-7.86
Now once you have learnt how to identify Orion, you can know use the stars of Orion to identify other stars and constellations.(One thing that you need to know is that whenever i mention an imaginary line it means a straight line in 2-D.But when you look at the stars because these stars are surrounded spherically these lines would not be straight, they would be slightly curved and so if you make a straight line joining two stars and are unable to find the third star,then look for the star which is closest to the line.) Now lets start with the top two stars of the Orion constellation Betelgeuse and Bellatrix. If you join these two stars Bellatrix and Betelgeuse and extend the line then you must reach a star which is relatively small and less bright.This star is known as Procyon and there should be an extremely faint star near Procyon.These two stars form the Canis Minor constellation.By extending the belt of Orion in the direction of Alnitak we can reach towards the brightest star in the winter constellation which is know as Sirius.It belongs to the Canis Major constellation.Now if the same line is extended towards Mintaka we'll find a hyper giant star that is reddish in color.This star is known as Aldebaran and it belongs to the Taurus constellation.Now if we join Rigel and Betelgeuse and extend the line further we'll find Castor and the star right next to Castor which is known as Pollux.These two stars belong to the Gemini constellation.If you are viewing Orion through a telescope then you can spot M42 which is also know as the Orion nebula between the Orion belt,Rigel and Saiph.Also if you search in the Taurus constellation you might find M45 which is a cluster of stars.The three stars Betelgeuse,Sirius and Procyon are also know as the winter triangle
Astronomy and astrology has always fascinated me and as it all comes down to the position of stars and planets i was automatically inclined towards stargazing.Now even before recognizing stars one must be able to identify the different constellations.One of the easiest set of constellations to recognize are the winter constellations.As the name suggests these constellations are seen during the winter in the Northern hemisphere.These include Orion,Canis major,Canis minor,Leo,Leo minor,Sextans,Monoceros,Lynx,Hydra,Gemini and Cancer.Now before going to the difficult ones,lets start with the simple constellation like Orion On a clear winter night look up in the sky and search for three bright stars that are close to each other and almost in a straight line this is the Orion belt they are (from left to right) Alnitak,Alnilam,Mintaka.On the upper left side of the Orion belt there should be a relatively bright star that has a reddish color this star is known as Betelgeuse.On the lower right corner of the Orion belt there should be a bright blue star known as Rigel.The interesting fact about these stars is that if you make an imaginary line
joining Betelgeuse and Rigel then the direction pointed by Betelgeuse is North and that of Rigel is South.Now the star on the upper right corner of the Orion belt is known as Belatrix and the star on the lower left corner of the Orion belt is known as Salph. Now just by looking at Orion one can identify many other constellation in my next blog i'll teach you how to identify other constellation using Orion and all the interesting objects that one can find in Orion.
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list of meteor showers:-
1) Leonids - 6th-30th Nov, peak- 17th Nov
2)Alpha monocerotids - 15th-20th Nov, peak- 21st Nov
3)Phoenicids - 28th Nov - 9th Dec, peak- 6th Dec
4)Geminids - 7th Dec - 17th Dec, peak- 13th Dec
5)Ursids - 17th Dec - 26th Dec , peak- 23rd Dec