New- Star Chart For Cayman

A new feature as of June 2015 has been added - look at the bottom of this web page and there is a new Star Chart exclusively for Grand Cayman

November 30th, 2008, Pedro Castle 6.30 p.m.

I don’t know about you, but I have seen very little in the media about India’s successful mission to the Moon.
“In a historic event, the Indian space programme achieved a unique feat today (November 14, 2008) with the placing of Indian tricolour on the Moon's surface on Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru's birthday. The Indian flag was painted on the sides of Moon Impact Probe (MIP), one of the 11 payloads of Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft, that successfully hit the lunar surface today at 20:31 hrs (8:31 pm) IST. This is the first Indian built object to reach the surface of the moon. The point of MIP's impact was near the Moon's South Polar Region. It may be recalled that the modern Indian space programme was initiated in 1962 when Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was the Prime Minister of India.”
As of writing this, everything is going as planned; the instruments have been activated and are operating correctly. And Mumbai is suffering.

Venus and Jupiter have been getting closer to each other and on viewing night will be joined by the crescent moon. Look to the west after dusk and watch the planets approach each other.
Dec. 1st is the best night of all. The now-15% crescent Moon moves in closer to form an isosceles triangle with Venus and Jupiter as opposing vertices. The three brightest objects in the night sky will be gathered so tightly together, you can hide them all behind your thumb held at arm's length.

Pedro Castle, October 30th 6.30 p.m.

This is what the sky will look like at 7.00 on viewing night.
I am going to continue with the theme of the Summer Triangle while it is still high in the early evening sky.
The alpha star of Aquila, Altair, is a vertex of the Summer Triangle asterism.
Aquila (Latin: eagle; sometimes named the Vulture), is one of the 48 constellations listed by Ptolemy, also mentioned by Eudoxus (4th century BC) and Aratus (3rd century BC) and now also part of the list of 88 constellations acknowledged by the IAU. It lies roughly at the celestial equator.
NASA's Pioneer 11 mission, which flew by Jupiter and Saturn (in 1974 and 1979 respectively) will pass near one of the stars in the constellation in about four million years.
The constellation resembles a wide winged, soaring, short necked, bird, which the ancients identified as an eagle. In classical Greek mythology, it was identified as the eagle which carried the thunderbolts of Zeus and was sent by him to carry the shepherd boy Ganymede who he desired, represented by the neighbouring Aquarius, to Mount Olympus where he became the wine-pourer for all the gods. This explains why the largest moon of Jupiter was called Ganymede, Jupiter being the Roman name of Zeus. The eagle was used to carry or retrieve the lightning bolts that were thrown by Zeus.
In the Chinese love story of Qi Xi, Niu Lang (Altair) and his two children (β and γ Aquilae) are separated forever from their wife and mother Zhi Nu (Vega in Lyra, another vertex of the Summer Triangle) who is on the far side of the river, the Milky Way.
In Hinduism, the constellation Aquila is identified with the half eagle, half human deity, Garuda.
Altair (α Alpha Aquilae) is the brightest star in the constellation Aquila and the twelfth brightest star in the nighttime sky, at visual magnitude 0.77. It is an "A" type or white star located 17 light-years (5.2 pc) away from Earth, one of the closest stars visible to the naked eye.
The name "Altaïr" is Arabic for "the bird". The spelling "Atair" is also used frequently. The name was given by Arabic astronomers and adopted by Western astronomers.

Pedro Castle,Thursday, 2nd October, 7.00 p.m.

As darkness falls on viewing night, the constellation of Cygnus, the Swan, is overhead, in the orientation that is shown above, up being north.
Because of the pattern of its main stars, it is sometimes known as the Northern Cross (in contrast to the Southern Cross).
One of the most recognizable constellations of the northern summer and autumn, it resembles a swan flying south along the Milky Way. Albireo, a double star with blue and yellow components is at the "head". Deneb, its brightest star, is at the tail and is one star of the summer triangle.
The Summer Triangle is an astronomical asterism involving an imaginary triangle drawn on the northern hemisphere's celestial sphere, with its defining vertices at Altair, Deneb, and Vega. This triangle connects the constellations of Aquila, Cygnus, and Lyra.
Looking toward the south, Jupiter, the fourth brightest object in the sky, is in the constellation of Sagittarius. Venus is setting in the west.

Wednesday 3rd September 2008. Pedro Castle 7.30 pm

There are “winds” in space as well as around the Cayman Islands, albeit of a very different nature.
A stellar wind is a flow of neutral or charged gas ejected from the upper atmosphere of a star.
Different types of stars have different types of stellar winds.
Post-main sequence stars nearing the ends of their lives often eject large quantities of mass in massive slow winds. These include red giants and supergiants, and asymptotic giant branch stars. These winds are likely to be driven by radiation pressure on dust condensing in the upper atmosphere of the stars.
G stars like the Earth's Sun have a wind driven by their hot, magnetized corona. The Sun's wind is called the solar wind. These winds consist mostly of high-energy electrons and protons (about 1 keV) that are able to escape the star's gravity because of the high temperature of the corona.
Massive stars of types O and B have stellar winds with lower mass loss rates but very high velocities. Such winds are driven by radiation pressure on the resonance absorption lines of heavy elements such as carbon and nitrogen. These high-energy stellar winds blow stellar wind bubbles.
Although stellar winds from main sequence stars do not strongly influence the evolution of the stars, during the later, post-main sequence phase, mass lost by stellar winds can decide the fate of the star. Many intermediate mass stars become white dwarfs at the ends of their lives rather than exploding as supernovae only because they lost enough mass in their winds.
A Stellar wind bubble is the astronomical term usually used to describe a cavity light years across filled with hot gas blown into the interstellar medium by the high-velocity (several thousand km/s) stellar wind from a single massive star of type O or B. Weaker stellar winds still blow bubble structures though, and these are also called astrospheres.
The heliosphere blown by the solar wind, within which all the major planets of the Solar System are embedded, is in fact a small example of a stellar wind bubble.
Above is a Hubble Space Telescope image of a bubble-like cavity, called N44F, 35 light-years in diameter, which is being inflated by a stellar wind from a very hot star once buried inside a cold dense cloud. The central star in N44F is ejecting mass at a rate greater than a 100 million times that in the solar wind. The particles in this stellar wind move at 7 million kilometers per hour, compared with about 1.5 million km per hour in the case of the Sun. N44F is located about 160,000 light-years away in the Large Magellanic Cloud.
Jupiter will be high in the south on Wednesday, easily spotted in the Teapot of Sagittarius, which is pouring onto the tail of the scorpion, Scorpius.

Pedro Castle, Monnday, 4th August 2008

The constellation Hercules is overhead when darkness falls. Although it holds no first magnitude stars, it is easy to distinguish the “Keystone” asterism.
Hercules contains two of the most conspicuous globular clusters: M13, the brightest globular cluster in the northern hemisphere, and M92.
A globular cluster is a spherical collection of stars that orbits a galactic core as a satellite. Globular clusters are very tightly bound by gravity, which gives them their spherical shapes and relatively high stellar densities toward their centers. The name of this category of star cluster is derived from the Latin globulus—a small sphere. A globular cluster is sometimes known more simply as a globular.
Globular clusters, which are found in the halo of a galaxy, contain considerably more stars and are much older than the less dense galactic, or open clusters, which are found in the disk. Globular clusters are fairly common; there are about 158 currently known globular clusters in the Milky Way, with perhaps 10–20 more undiscovered. Large galaxies can have more: Andromeda, for instance, may have as many as 500. Some giant elliptical galaxies, such as M87, may have as many as 10,000 globular clusters. These globular clusters orbit the galaxy out to large radii, 40 kiloparsecs (approximately 131 thousand light-years) or more.
The Great Globular Cluster in Hercules was discovered by Edmond Halley in 1714, and catalogued by Charles Messier on June 1, 1764.
Its real diameter is about 145 light-years, and at its distance of 25,100 light years, its angular diameter of 20' corresponds to a linear 145 light years - visually, it is perhaps 13' large, and it is composed of several hundred thousand stars.
There are seven stars in Hercules known to be orbited by extrasolar planets. They were discovered in 1996, 2005, 2006, and the last four in 2007.
Four of the planets in our solar system are visible in the night sky, Venus setting in the west, closely followed by Saturn and Mars, and Jupiter can be seen in the south, close to the “Teapot” of Sagittarius.

Pedro Castle, Sunday, 6th July 2008

We will aim to meet 7.30. p.m. on Sunday 6th July at Pedro Castle.
However, it is the rainy season. If the sky is more than 50% cloud covered we cancel. Given the changeableness of the weather, you can appreciate that this can sometimes be a difficult decision to make.
In the west Saturn, Mars, the bright star Regulus and the Moon will all be close to each other in the sky when darkness falls. Jupiter will be rising in the east.
Close to the zenith, Arcturus is the most luminous object in that part of the night sky.
The brightest star in the constellation Boötes, it is the third brightest star in the night sky, with a visual magnitude of −0.05, after Sirius and Canopus. It is the second brightest star visible from northern latitudes and the brightest star in the northern celestial hemisphere.
Researching Arcturus led me to this wonderful piece of astronomical lore, quite new to me.
The Local Interstellar Cloud, casually called the Local Fluff, is the interstellar cloud (roughly 30 light years across) through which our solar system is currently moving. The cloud has a temperature of 6000° C, about the same temperature as the surface of the Sun. It is very thin, with 0.26 atoms per cubic centimeter; approximately one-fifth the density of the galactic interstellar medium and twice that of the gas in the Local Bubble. In comparison, Earth's atmosphere at STP has 2.7 × 1019 molecules per cubic centimeter.
The Sun, with a few other local stars, is embedded in the Local Fluff. Notable nearby planetary systems include those of Alpha Centauri, Vega, Arcturus, and Fomalhaut.
Our Sun may exit the Local Interstellar Cloud during the next 10,000 years. Much remains unknown about the local ISM, including details of its distribution, its origin, and how it affects the Sun and the Earth, although it is thought that the Local Interstellar Cloud's effects on Earth are effectively cancelled by the solar wind and the Sun's magnetic field.
Arcturus is a type K1.5 IIIpe red giant star — the letters "pe" stand for "peculiar emission," which indicates that the spectrum of light given off by the star is unusual and full of emission lines. This is not too uncommon in red giants, but Arcturus has a particularly strong case of the phenomenon. It is at least 110 times more luminous than the Sun, but this underestimates its strength as much of the "light" it gives off is in the infrared; total power output is about 180 times that of the Sun. The lower output in visible light is due to a lower efficacy as the star has a lower surface temperature than the Sun.
Its mass is hard to exactly determine, but may be about the same as the Sun, and is no more than 1.5 solar masses. Arcturus is likely to be considerably older than the Sun, and much like what the Sun will be in its red giant phase.
According to the Hipparcos satellite, Arcturus is 36.7 light years (11.3 parsecs) from Earth, relatively close in astronomical terms. Hipparcos also suggested that Arcturus is a binary star, with the companion about twenty times dimmer than the primary and orbiting close enough to be at the very limits of our current ability to make it out. Recent results remain inconclusive, but do support the marginal Hipparcos detection of a binary companion.

Pedro Castle, Thursday June 5th, 7.30 p.m.

Crux, the Southern Cross, will be visible for the rest of this month. On the night of the 5th, the constellation will be hanging above the southern horizon.
Crux is the smallest constellation in the sky, but one of the most celebrated. The early Portuguese navigators saw it as a symbol of their faith, and the mystery of the unknown lent it an additional charm in the minds of those from whom the southern skies were hidden. There are other cross patterns formed by stars, but the distinguishing feature of the two bright pointers alpha and beta Centauri make Crux unmistakable.
Crux lies in a dense and brilliant part of the Milky Way, which makes the famous dark nebula known as the Coalsack striking in silhouette against the star background.
This is the head of the Emu to the native aborigines of Australia. The rest of the Emu is made from the dark lanes in the Milky Way.
Alpha Crucis was too far south to have been given an ancient name so Acrux is simply a combination of the A in alpha and Crux. Being of first magnitude (0.83), it is the 12th brightest star in the sky and 321 light years distant from us. Under high power, a telescope reveals it to be a binary system with two very similar B type stars having magnitudes of 1.33 and 1.73 separated by 4 arc seconds. With surface temperatures of around 27,000K they are highly luminous, the brightest 25,000 time more luminous than our Sun. In fact, the brighter star is itself a double, the two component stars orbit each other every 76 days but are too close to split with a telescope. So Acrux is a triple star system. A further, type B4, star lies 90 arc seconds away and may belong to the system as well. It has a similar proper motion - that is, its direction of motion through space - but is probably a more distant star that just happens to lie in the same direction.
NGC 4755 (k, kappa Crucis) is an open cluster of stars, that contains about 100 stars and is about 10 million years old. It lies some 7500 light years away and spans a 10 arc minutes field of view so filling a volume of space about 20 light years across. Lying close to Beta Crucis, it is easy to find and best seen with binoculars or a telescope at low power. It contains many highly luminous blue-white stars along with a central red supergiant that makes a beautiful colour contrast. It was named the Jewel box by Sir John Herschel who called it a "casket of variously coloured precious stones". It can easily be seen by the unaided eye as a star, and indeed was originally catalogued as such in pre-telescope times.
Saturn and Mars are visible in a line (called the ecliptic) with the three day old crescent Moon.
The ecliptic is the apparent path that the Sun traces out in the sky during the year. As it appears to move in the sky in relation to the stars, the apparent path aligns with the planets throughout the course of the year. The orbit of the Moon is inclined by about 5° on the ecliptic. The moon crosses the ecliptic about twice per month. If this happens during new moon a solar eclipse occurs, during full moon a lunar eclipse. This was the way the ancients could trace the ecliptic along the sky; they marked the places where eclipses could occur and the name ecliptic is derived from being the place where eclipses occur.

Pedro Castle,Thursday, 8th May

The familiar constellation of the Great Bear, Ursa Major, is visible in the north, although it may appear “upside down” to anyone from the higher latitudes.
The seven brightest stars, located in the Bear's hindquarters and tail, form the well-known Big Dipper asterism. (In Britain, this asterism is known as the Plough.) The stars Merak (β Ursae Majoris) and Dubhe are known as the "pointer stars" because they are helpful for finding Polaris, also known as the North Star. By visually tracing a line from Merak through Dubhe and continuing, one's eye will land on Polaris, accurately indicating true north.
Mizar, a star in the Big Dipper, forms the famous optical double star with Alcor.
Several bright galaxies are found in Ursa Major, including the pair Messier 81 (one of the brightest galaxies in the sky) and Messier 82 above the bear's head, and Pinwheel Galaxy (M101), a beautiful spiral northwest of η Ursae Majoris.
Polaris, sometimes known as the Lodestar, is the brightest star in the constellation Ursa Minor. It is very close to the north celestial pole (42′ away as of 2006), making it the current northern pole star.
Polaris has the common reputation of being the brightest star in the sky, whereas near dead-on second magnitude (2.02) it comes in at number 48. Its lower rank, however, is largely determined by its great distance of 430 light years. The star is actually an evolved class F (F7) yellow supergiant 2500 times more luminous than our Sun with a temperature of about 6000 Kelvin, which leads to a radius 45 times that of the Sun and a mass of six times solar. Hydrogen fusion has stopped in the star's core, and it is now passing through a phase of instability wherein it pulsates over a period of about four days, almost invisibly changing its brightness as the brightest "Cepheid" variable star in the sky.
Polaris has the distinction of having a pair of companions, one near, the other far. About 18 seconds of arc away lies an eighth magnitude F3 1.4 (or so) solar mass dwarf, which at the distance of Polaris must be at least 2400 Astronomical Units away and take at least 42,000 years to orbit. Much closer is an F7 dwarf (noted from spectroscopy and resolved by the Hubble Space Telescope, giving us three F stars in one pot), that at a measured average distance of only 17 AU takes but 29.6 years to go around, a high eccentricity running it between 27 and 6.7 AU.

Pedro Castle,Tuesday, 8th April

Bright, ruddy Mars will be overhead in the middle of the constellation Gemini, approximately by Castor’s hand.
Castor is a visual double star made up of two blue-white stars, A and B, of 1.9 and 2.9 magnitudes respectively. The pair orbit each other every 400 years and are now as close as they ever get, making them somewhat of a challenge to split and requiring good seeing. In fact their spectra show that each is itself a double star. Castor A is made up of two identical 2 solar mass stars orbiting each other every 9.2 days while the stars that make up Castor B orbit even faster, every 2.9 days.
Pollux is one of few stars visible to the naked eye which features an extrasolar planet.

Saturn will be in the east as darkness falls, very close to the star Regulus, the heart of the Lion, Leo.
Regulus is the brightest star in the constellation Leo and one of the brightest stars in the nighttime sky. Regulus is approximately 77.5 light years from Earth.
Regulus has about 3.5 times the Sun’s mass and is a young star of only a few hundred million years. It is spinning extremely rapidly, with a rotation period of only 15.9 hours, which causes it to have a highly oblate shape. This results in so-called gravity darkening: the photosphere at Regulus' poles is considerably hotter, and five times brighter per unit surface area, than its equatorial region. If it were rotating only 16% faster, centripetal force would overcome gravity and the star would tear itself apart.
Regulus is a multiple star system composed of a hot, bright, bluish-white star with a pair of small, faint companions. The pair orbits the much-larger Regulus A with a period of over 130,000 years at a distance of some 4,200 AU. The companion pair have an orbital period of 2,000 years and are separated by about 100 AU.

Pedro Castle, Monday March 10th, 7.00 p.m.

High overhead at viewing time lies the constellation Auriga.
The Charioteer (possibly Erechthonius, son of Vulcan) is among the brightest northern constellations, it lies midway between Perseus and Ursa Major in a region crossed by the Milky Way, and is the site of the galactic anticenter (the point in the sky diametrically opposite the center of the Galaxy). Gamma Aur, or El Nath, is shared with Taurus and is universally referred nowadays as Beta Tau.
Its brightest star is Capella, which is associated with the mythological she-goat Amalthea. The three stars ε Aurigae, ζ Aurigae and η Aurigae are called Haedi (the Kids). Aurigae and Zeta Aurigae are remarkable eclipsing binaries.
ε Aurigae and ζ Aurigae are peculiar binary stars. The orbital period of ε Aurigae is approximately 27 years, with an eclipse duration of about 18 months. The visible companion is a yellowish F-class supergiant. The type of the other star is not known. ζ Aurigae has a period of 970 days, the primary is a K-class supergiant and the secondary is a B-class main sequence star. Both these systems present a rare stage of binary evolution, as the components are in a short and active evolutionary stage.
Auriga has many open clusters and other objects because the Milky Way runs through it. The three brightest open clusters are M36, M37 and M38, all of which are visible in binoculars or a small telescope in suburban skies. A larger telescope resolves individual stars. The clusters are about 4100, 4400, and 4200 light years distant, respectively. Their apparent visual magnitudes are 6.3, 6.2, and 7.4, respectively.
Capella (α Aur / α Aurigae / Alpha Aurigae) is the brightest star in the constellation, and eleventh brightest star in the sky. Although it appears as a single point to the naked eye, Capella is actually a bright close binary pair of yellow giant stars along side a second, fainter binary.
A yellow star, it traditionally marks the left shoulder of the constellation's eponymous charioteer, or sometimes the goat that the charioteer is carrying. It is closer to the north celestial pole than any other first magnitude star (Polaris is only second magnitude) and as a result has played a significant role in many mythological writings. A tablet dating back to 2000 BC refers to Capella.
Astronomically, Capella's interest lies in the fact that it is an easily-studied non-eclipsing spectroscopic binary star. These two giant G-class stars have luminosities of around 50 and 80 times that of the Sun and lie less than 100 million km apart with an orbital period of 104.02 days. The stars were probably of spectral class A during their main sequence, similar to Sirius, and are in the process of becoming red giants in a few million more years as they continue to expand, cool, and brighten. Capella is a source of X-rays, probably due to surface magnetic activity on one of the pair. The Capella binary was the first star system to be imaged using a long baseline optical astronomical interferometer in observations by COAST in 1995.
The central stars also have a faint companion that is itself a double star, consisting of two M-class red dwarf stars, that orbit at around a light year away from the main pair.
In Australian Aboriginal mythology, Capella was Purra, the kangaroo, pursued and killed by the nearby Gemini twins or by the Orion hunter, or near the Orion belt twins canoe.
To the Bedouin people of the Negev and Sinai, Capella is known as al-'Ayūg, 'the dandy', in its role as pointing out the position of the Pleiades -its name more fully al-'Ayūg ath-Thurayyā 'dandy of the Pleiades'.

On the night,Mars will be high overhead, with Saturn rising in the east, close to the brightest star in Leo, Regulus.
clear skies

Pedro Castle, Monday February 11th

As darkness falls on Monday the bright star Aldebaran can be seen directly overhead.
Aldebaran is the brightest star in the constellation Taurus and one of the brightest stars in the nighttime sky. It has the Bayer designation Alpha Tauri. Because of its location in the head of Taurus, it has historically been called the Bull's Eye. Aldebaran has the appearance of being the brightest member of the more scattered Hyades cluster, which is the closest star cluster to Earth. However, it is merely located in the line of sight between the Earth and the Hyades, and is actually an independent star.
In 1997, a possible substellar companion was reported, with a mass at least 11 times that of Jupiter with an orbital period of around 2 years, however this has not been confirmed.
Aldebaran is a K5 III star, which means it is orangish, large, and has moved off of the main sequence after exhausting the hydrogen fuel in its core. It has a minor companion (a dim M2 dwarf orbiting at several hundred AU). Now primarily fusing helium, the main star has expanded to a diameter of approximately 5.3 × 107 km, or about 38 times the diameter of the Sun.
The Hipparcos satellite has measured it as 65.1 light years away, and it shines with 150 times the Sun's luminosity. With an apparent magnitude of 0.87, it is the 14th brightest star.
The name Aldebaran comes from the Arabic (الدبران al-dabarān) meaning "the follower" and refers to the way the star follows the Pleiades star cluster in its nightly journey across the sky.
In Persia it was known as Satvis and Kugard.[4]
It is known as 畢宿五 (Bìxiùwŭ, the Fifth Star of the Net) in Chinese.
Aldebaran is identified as the lunar mansion Rohini in Hindu astronomy and as one of the twenty-seven daughters of Daksha and the wife of the god Chandra.
The Romans called it Palilicium.
For the Dakotas (a branch of the Native American Sioux tribe), Aldebaran took on a heroic aspect. The young star was the child of the sun and the lady Blue Star. One day, he desired to hunt the white buffalo (the Pleiades). After he pulled up a sapling to make a spear, a hole was made in the ground and he could see all the people of Earth down below. The white buffalo took this chance to push him through. He was found by an old woman and was to be known as Old Woman's Grandson. On Earth, he killed many strange monsters that had been troubling the Native Americans; one monster of which was a serpent that caused drought. The young hero killed the serpent, releasing a great stream of water that became the Mississippi River. In time, Old Woman's Grandson remembered the white buffalo and returned to hunting him in the sky to fulfill his destiny.
For the Seris of northwestern Mexico, this star is providing light for the seven women giving birth (Pleiades).
Noticeably redder, and brighter, is the nearby planet Mars.
Mars is close to the β (beta) star of Auriga on the illustration above.
Called Menkalinan, it is a double star consisting of two blue white giant A2 class stars. They have magnitudes of 1.9 and 2.7 and are 90 light years distant.

January 11th 2008

Although the eye is drawn to bright Mars and the rising winter constellations, almost directly overhead as darkness falls is the small, faint constellation of Aries.
Aries is one of the least conspicuous of the zodiacal constellations, and has only two stars above third magnitude. These are Hamal and Sheratan, the Alpha and Beta stars of the constellation. Unusually, these two stars not only appear to be close together in the sky, but actually are: they lie just six light years from one another.
The Hipparcos satellite indicates that Hamal is about 65.9 light-years from Earth. Combined with its intrinsic brightness, this relatively small distance makes the star shine at an apparent magnitude of 2.01, the 47th brightest star in the sky.
Beta Arietis is the Ram's second horn. It also has the traditional name Sharatan (or Sheratan or Sheratim), and the Flamsteed designation 6 Arietis.
Al Sharatan means "the two signs", a reference to the star having marked the vernal equinox together with its binary partner Gamma Arietis several thousand years ago. It is 59.6 light years from Earth.
Gamma Arietis, Mesarthrim, shines third among the stars of the flat triangle that make the classical figure of Aries, the Ram (for that reason gaining the Gamma designation). The name (derived from Arabic) originally came from the same root as that for the Beta star, Sheratan (meaning "the two"), but was corrupted by mistranslations into its current form.
Gamma Arietis is a beautiful double star, which was discovered quite by chance in 1664 when astronomer, Robert Hooke, was following the motion of a comet. Gamma Arietis is one of the earliest double stars on record to have been found with the aid of a telescope.
Teegarden's star, a recent (2003) discovery is also in the constellation. It is one of Sun's closest neighbors at around 12 light years away. It appears to be a red dwarf, a class of low temperature and low luminosity stars. This would explain why it was not discovered earlier, since it has an apparent magnitude of only 15.4 (and an absolute magnitude of 17.47).
Teegarden's Star was discovered on images taken by the NEAT program operated by NASA. Its name comes from its principal discoverer, Dr. Bonnard Teegarden, an astrophysicist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.
It is thought to be quite likely that many other dim and easily overlooked red dwarf stars exist in the nearest 20 light years, as stellar population surveys show their count to be quite lower than otherwise expected.
Although dim, Aries is one of the oldest and most revered of all constellations. The ancient Babylonians, Egyptians, Persians and Greeks all called this group of stars "The Ram." It is the Zodiac's first constellation since the Sun, at one time, was entering Aries on the day of the vernal equinox...the moment when it crosses from the southern to the northern half of the celestial sphere. However, because of the Earth's precession, the Sun is now in Pisces at the vernal equinox. Nevertheless, Aries is still considered to be the symbolic first constellation of the Zodiac and Right Ascension continues to be measured from the first point of Aries.
In a bygone age, the Egyptians associated Aries with Amon-Re, the ram-headed supreme Sun God who symbolized power and fertility. The Mesopotamians' name for the constellation meant a military leader or prince. In Hebrew tradition, the ram represented the death-defying blood of the lamb smeared on the doorways as part of the original Passover, which preceded the Hebrew Exodus from Egypt. The Greeks related Aries to the story of the Golden Fleece, the hide of the flying ram that Jason (with the help of his beloved Medea) spirited away from the serpent in the Grove of Aries. This constellation is mentioned in "Phaenomena," authored by the Greek poet Aratus, which dates from the Third Century B.C., and Ptolemy, the great astronomer who lived and worked in Egypt during the Second Century A.D., cataloged this constellation.
The present name of this Zodiac Sign is Roman in origin, Roman mythology having been adopted from that of the Ancient Greeks. This faint and tiny cluster of stars first appeared on monetary coin in 6 A.D.
clear skies