Geminids Meteor Shower – December 13-14, 2014

Look for this meteor shower just before midnight on these two nights. There is a good chance of seeing a hundred or more meteors per hour! The radiant (the apparent point of origin) is in the constellation Gemini, which will be high overhead as midnight approaches. Be sure to get some observing in before the Moon rises at about 11pm and midnight on these two nights.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geminids

Aries (The ram)

Constellation AriesAries is the zodiacal constellation named after the ram.  In ancient times, this constellation represented the golden fleece that was stolen by Jason and the Argonauts. It is one of the 48 constellations cataloged by 2nd century astronomer Ptolemy that remain among the 88 modern constellations. It is located on the ecliptic between Pisces and Taurus, and just south of Triangulum. It is highest in the sky at darkness and can be best seen in December.  Its brightest star is Hamal (Alpha Arietis), and most of this constellation’s stars can be picked out in most light polluted urban skies, but the constellation bears little resemblance to a ram.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aries_(constellation)

IAU Aries chart, IAU and Sky & Telescope magazine (Roger Sinnott & Rick Fienberg), June 4, 2011.
IAU Aries chart, IAU and Sky & Telescope magazine (Roger Sinnott & Rick Fienberg), June 4, 2011.

© James R. Johnson, 2014
jim@jrjohnson.net

Triangulum (The triangle)

Triangulum, AndromedaThis small northern constellation presents as well-formed triangle of three stars. It was one of the 48 constellations cataloged by 2nd century astronomer Ptolemy that remain among the 88 modern constellations. It is not bright enough to jump out at the observer, but can be seen in all but the most light-polluted skies. Look for it high overhead between Perseus, Andromeda, and Pisces in December. M33, the Triangulum Galaxy, is the brightest and most notable deep sky object in this constellation.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triangulum

610px-Triangulum_IAU.svg
IAU Triangulum chart, IAU and Sky & Telescope magazine (Roger Sinnott and Rick Fienberg), June 5, 2011

© James R. Johnson, 2014
jim@jrjohnson.net

Lacerta (The lizard)

Andromeda, LacertaLacerta, the lizard, is a northern hemisphere constellation that presents a slight “W” shape, and is hence sometimes referred to as “Little Cassiopeia.” It is nestled among five large and distinct constellations: Cepheus, Cygnus, Pegasus, Andromeda and Cassiopeia, and it can be found highest in the sky at nightfall in March. Most notable for telescope viewers is Roe 47, a multiple star system consisting of five gravitationally-bound components between 6th and 10th magnitude. While the brightest, 6th magnitude component can usually be seen with the unaided eye under very dark skies, a modest telescope is required to see all five components.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lacerta

IAU Lacerta chart, IAU and Sky & Telescope magazine (Roger Sinnott & Rick Fienberg), June 5, 2011.
IAU Lacerta chart, IAU and Sky & Telescope magazine (Roger Sinnott & Rick Fienberg), June 5, 2011.

© James R. Johnson, 2014
jim@jrjohnson.net

Phoenix (The mythical Phoenix)

Constellation PhoenixMythical Phoenix is very low and dim southern constellation that is challenging to locate from northern latitudes. Find it by drawing a line southward from Pisces through Cetus and Sculptor. Because it is located so far south, it is only visible at its highest nightfall ascension in December, and perhaps its brightest star, Ankaa (Alpha Phoenicis) will be the only star visible through the haze on the horizon. Two recently-discovered galaxy clusters, Phoenix and El Gordo, are among the largest objects in the visible universe.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phoenix_(constellation)

IAU Phoenix chart, IAU and Sky Telescope magazine, Roger Sinnott and Rick Fienberg, June 5, 2011.
IAU Phoenix chart, IAU and Sky & Telescope magazine (Roger Sinnott and Rick Fienberg), June 5, 2011.

© James R. Johnson, 2014.
jim@jrjohnson.net

Sculptor (The sculptor)

The Sculptor is a southern constellation of dim stars that does not rise very high in the sky. It is located south of a point half way between Aquarius and Cetus, and can only be seen from October through January, reaching its highest nightfall ascension in early December. The most notable characteristic of this constellation is that it contains the southern pole of the Milky Way Galaxy. The implication of this is that an observer is looking out of the galactic plane, instead of through its long axis as when observing the Milky Way. This explains why there are fewer stars in this region of the sky.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sculptor_(constellation)

IAU Sculptor chart, IAU and Sky & Telescope magazine (Roger Sinnott and Rick Fienberg), June 5, 2011.
IAU Sculptor chart, IAU and Sky & Telescope magazine (Roger Sinnott and Rick Fienberg), June 5, 2011.

© James R. Johnson, 2014.
jim@jrjohnson.net

Piscis Austrinus (The southern fish)

Piscis AustrinusPiscis Austrinus, the southern fish, never rises very high above the southern horizon from our northern hemisphere location. It is situated below a point between Capricornus and Aquarius, and it reaches its highest nightfall ascension in October. In a light-polluted sky, 1st magnitude Fomalhaut might be the only star visible to the unaided eye. This constellation is related to one of the 48 constellations cataloged by 2nd century astronomer Ptolemy.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piscis_Austrinus

IAU Piscis Austrinus chart, Sky & Telescope magazine (Roger Sinnott and Rick Fienberg), June 5, 2011.
IAU Piscis Austrinus chart, Sky & Telescope magazine (Roger Sinnott and Rick Fienberg), June 5, 2011.

© James R. Johnson, 2014.
jim@jrjohnson.net