Monday, June 1, 2009

Finding Your Way Around the June Sky

While I own a number of astronomy books, my favorite astronomy book is one of the more simpler ones titled The Stargazer's Bible by W.S. Kals. The price tag on my copy, purchased in 1986 was $5.95. It looks like it is out of print, but I did find used copies still for sale when searching the Internet. Several were available for $1 plus shipping and handling. The triangular pattern and mnemonic I will be describing below come from the Kals book.

The web site SkyMaps.com makes available a monthly sky chart for free. They are the source for the image below. I went out under the download latest issue link, and then scrolled down the page to where I could select the  June 2009 PDF downloads link on their page. The Sky Map also contains a short narrative of interesting things to look for in the June 2009 sky.

image

The above sky map is for June 2009, I've highlighted the big dipper in green. The first constellation most people learn about is the big dipper, to often it ends there. If you follow the curve of the handle of the big dipper around (my blue arrow) you will come to the bright start Arcturus and if you keep going you will come to Spica. To the right of Spica is a bright star Regulus, and to the left of Spica is a bright star Arcturus. These four stars form two large triangles in the sky. To help remember the names of these four stars remember the phrase "Regular Spices And Arsenic", using the phrase to remember the names of these four bright stars as you travel around the triangles in a clockwise direction leaving from Regulus.

These four 1st magnitude stars will also help you locate four of the constellations along the ecliptic. I've highlighted the names of the constellations in the above map. Regulus is the bright start in the constellation Leo the Lion, Spica is the bright star in the constellation Virgo the Virgin, Antares is in Scorpius the Scorpion, and Arcturs is in Bootes the Herdsman.

In a future blog posting I'll move to another part of the sky and we will learn the names of six more of the brightest stars, how to locate them, and some major constellations they are associated with.

1 comment:

MV said...

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