Tag Archives: May

Centaurus (The centaur)

Constellation CentaurusCentaurus is a large, bright southern constellation that is among the 48 constellations cataloged by 2nd century astronomer Ptolemy. Because it is located so far south on the celestial sphere, it rises only partially above the horizon at a 40-degree north location. It reaches its highest nightfall ascension in May. This constellation has the distinction of hosting our nearest stellar neighbor, the Alpha Centauri system. Located just over four light years away, this system consists of three components: Alpha Centauri A, B and C. Alpha Centauri C is also known as Proxima, which is actually the nearest of the three component stars, and the only one that cannot be seen with the unaided eye.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centaurus

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

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

Corvus (The raven)

CorvusCorvus is a southern constellation that was cataloged by 2nd century astronomer Ptolemy that remains among the 88 modern constellations. It’s four brightest stars form a distinct quadrilateral asterism that lies beneath Virgo’s back, adjacent to Crater, and above Hydra near its tail. This constellation reaches its highest nightfall ascension in May. Because of its deep southern declination, it sets shortly after setting, and it never rises very far above the horizon.

NGC40384039_largeThere are no Messier objects in Corvus, but there is a very interesting pair of NGC galaxies, the Antennae peculiar galaxy (NGC 4038 and 4039).  These two objects are undergoing a galactic collision which is stretching them out into unusual antenna-like shapes. “Peculiar” is a term given to any galaxy that does not have the usual spiral or elliptical shape.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corvus_(constellation)

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

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

Canes Venatici (The hunting dogs)

Canes VenaticiCanes Venatici represents the hunting dogs of Bootes, the herdsman. This is a small northern constellation consisting of only two main stars, and it is located below the Big Dipper’s curved handle and to the right of Bootes. Canes Venatici reaches its highest nightfall ascension in May.

In spite of its small size, Canes Venatici is very interesting in its arrangement of galaxies. The Giant Void, the largest galactic supervoid known, exists along side several other notable galaxies. There are four Messier galaxies: M51 (the Whirlpool Galaxy), M63 (the Sunflower Galaxy), M94, and M106. A fifth Messier object in the M3 globular star cluster, which is bright enough to be seen with the unaided eye under a very dark sky.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canes_Venatici

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

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

Coma Berenices (Berenice’s hair)

Coma BerenicesComa Berenices represents the hair of Berenice II, queen of Eqypt and wife of 2nd century astronomer Ptolemy. Surprisingly, this constellation is not one of the 48 that 2nd century astronomer Ptolemy cataloged. As a naked eye object, this constellation is not much to behold. Its three main stars are rather dim, and the form of the constellation is rather nondescript. It can be found nestled among the intersection of Leo, Virgo, and Bootes, and it reaches its highest nightfall ascension in May.

With binocular or telescopic aid, Coma Berenices is a wonder to behold. Most notable is the large Coma Berenices Open Cluster Coma_Berenices_photograph(Melotte 111). This star cluster is comprised of about fifty stars that are spread over a five-degree (the width of ten full moons) area of the sky. To look at Coma Berenices with binoculars is to see this cluster. This constellation is also home to the northern portion of the Virgo Galaxy Cluster where several Messier galaxies can be found, to include M85, M88, M91, M98, M99, and M100. There are two other named galaxies in Coma Berenices, the Black Eye galaxy (M64) and the Needle galaxy (NGC 4565).
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coma_Berenices

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

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