Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Astronomically speaking...

Happy New Year to all !

I had a very good start of the year ... astronomically speaking !
It was past 2:00 a.m. of the first morning of the first day of 2019 and I was preparing to go to bed when I noticed that ,in spite of  gloomy weather forecasts  , the sky was clear.
I was too tired  to take out a telescope so I grabbed my 7x50mm Fujinon Mariner binoculars and I spent about an hour under the stars.
I was impressed of how  well the Deep Sky Objects were visible through the binoculars.

Last year I learned that my Romanian peasant ancestors did saw Orion not as a constellation but as a conglomerate of more different star asterisms.
The three stars in the Belt of Orion they called ''The Three Kings'' or ''The Three Magi'' searching for the child Jesus Christ.

(Latter note : I'm sorry ,I see now this is confusing but I cannot modify the drawing ,please read the red line and the text '' String of Pearl'' on picture above just as an indication that the asterism is highlighted with red lines.)

The name of ''Three Kings'' seem to be widely used across Europe.
I found it used by professional French astronomer La Lande in his monumental book '' l'Astronomie '' published in 1764.
I enjoyed through binoculars a great view of ''The Kings'' inside which it was obvious an ''S'' shaped chain of stars between Mintaka and Alnilam.

I believe this is the ''String of Pearls'' asterism which made Arabian astronomers to call ''the middle king'' as ''string of pearls''.
Here we see the chart of the open cluster Collinder 70 as plotted by WEBDA.
I highlighted on the plot the stars Mintaka ,Alnilam and those of ''The String of Pearls''.
Interogating WEBDA we find the interesting result that the NELM of ancient astronomers blessed with clear sky was consistently around 7 mv.
The city astro-dweller of today I don't think it will see  ''The String of Pearls'' without binocular.

The star asterism  made of  ( 42-45 Ori +Theta +Iota/Hatysa +Thabit+e Ori ) was seen by my ancestors as a ''Sickle''.

After finishing this short trip into the memory lanes I get back to more usual business and had a very enjoyable tour of Deep Sky Objects.
I started at Mel 111 which , I don't know why , I was missing most ...
Further I saw M44 with many stars resolved but smaller than Mel 111 , next was M67.
I'm not sure what I have seen close to Puppis ,maybe it was M93.
M47 and even M46 ,higher up, where easy prey , like M41.
M35 in Gemini was not very bright  but large ,beautiful.
In Auriga I payed the protocolar visite to M37 ,M36 and M38.
As they were located during my observation ,one can see them in a nearly rectilinear horizontal  move in the sequence : M35-M37-M36-M38.
In Orion I saw of course the Theta 1-2 stars ,M42 and open cluster NGC 1981 where I counted seven stars.
Above Lambda Ori , the main star of the poor cluster Collinder 69 I saw the very large cluster  Collinder 65 with bordering  Ruby Star.
Now I was quite  tired but I better throw in the towel as amateur astronomer if I leave without having a look of eternal  beauty of Hyades and Pleiades.

Well , I would be very happy if , astronomically speaking , this year will go on like this for myself and for  my observing buddies !

Credits :
- pictures are screen prints from Stellarium ,modified with Paint

-detailed informations are from the site of WEBDA dedicated to open clusters :
’'This article has made use of the WEBDA database ,operated at the Departament of Theoretical Physics and Astrophysics of the Masaryk University’’