Tag Archives: Northern

Leo Minor (The lesser lion)

Leo, Leo MinorLeo Minor is a northern constellation that walks the sky below Ursa Major’s hind legs and above Leo’s mane. Ptolemy, the 2nd century astronomer that cataloged many of today’s modern constellations, noted that the region of Leo Minor was undefined, and it remained that way until Johannes Hevelius first depicted it in 1687. Lying just outside the circle that defines circumpolar objects, this constellation can be seen most of the night year ’round, and it reaches its highest nightfall ascension in April. There are no Messier objects in Leo Minor, but there are several NGC objects available to the determined amateur astronomer’s telescope.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leo_Minor

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

Lynx (The lynx)

This faint, northern circumpolar constellation is best seen in March. It is so named because lynx-like vision is required to see its faint stars. Also, it represents the long, stretched out body of a lynx. This 28th-largest constellation is located between the Big Dipper, Pollux and Castor of Gemini, and Auriga.  Its only named star is Alsciaukat, which is Arabic for thorn. This constellation’s most notable deep sky object, the Intergalactic Tramp (NGC 2419), is the globular cluster of stars most distant from Earth. The Lynx reaches its highest nightfall ascension in March.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lynx_(constellation)

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

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

Camelopardalis (The giraffe)

Camelopardalis, Till Credner, July 16, 2004.The Greek camelopardalis means giraffe, which comes from camel because of its long neck and leopard because of its spots.  The brightest star in this constellation is 4th magnitude, which can be a challenge to see in a light-polluted urban sky. This is a faint northern constellation that provides the foreground stars in a direction that points away from the flat disk of the Milky Way. This 18th-largest constellation is found between Polaris, The Big Dipper and Cassiopeia, and is best viewed in February when it is high overhead at nightfall. Camelopardalis is also the direction in which Voyager I is headed, but its power source will be long dead when it arrives in that vicinity thousands of years from now. This constellation is also home to May’s Camelopardalids meteor shower.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camelopardalis

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

Equuleus (The pony)

Equuleus, DelphinusEquuleus, the pony, is a small, dim constellation located just north of the celestial equator. It bears no resemblance a pony, but it is one of the 48 constellations cataloged by 2nd century astronomer Ptolemy. Equuleus is the 2nd smallest constellation, and it has no stars brighter than 4th magnitude. It is located just outside of the Summer Triangle between  Aquila and Pegasus, and it reaches its highest nightfall ascension in October. Kitalpha (Alpha Equulei) is its brightest star shining at 3.9th magnitude. Equuleus contains a few faint NGC deep space objects.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equuleus

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

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

Sagitta (The arrow)

Aquila, Sagitta, DelphinusSaggita, the arrow, is the third smallest constellation. Find this tiny constellation just inside the Summer Triangle on an imaginary line drawn between Deneb in Cygnus and Altair in Aquila. Yep, this constellation is a distinct arrow-like constellation and  it can be readily seen under a reasonably dark sky. Find it at its highest nightfall ascension in September.This is one of the 48 constellations cataloged by Ptolemy in the 2nd century. It contains only one Messier object, M71.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sagitta

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

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

Pegasus (A winged horse in Greek mythology)

PegasusThis is a rather bright constellation that is nearly straight overhead at nightfall in November. An imaginary line drawn from Polaris through Cassiopeia to just beyond the zenith brings the viewer to this constellation. The most notable feature of this constellation is not an obvious winged horse, but an asterism known as the Great Square of Pegasus. An inexperienced observer who is accustomed to smaller constellations with denser star groupings might have difficulty perceiving these four widely spaced stars as a square. As the square’s stars are rather bright, and present an almost perfect quadrangle, it tends to be easier to relocate for an observer who has previously spotted this constellation and knows what to expect. The globular star cluster, M15, is the only Messier object in this constellation.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pegasus_(constellation)

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

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

Cassiopeia (A Greek mythological queen)

CassiopeiaCassiopeia is named after the vain Greek mythological queen of Aethiopia, the wife of Cepheus and the daughter of Andromeda. This constellation was one of the 48 constellations cataloged by the 2nd century astronomer Ptolemy that remain among the 88 modern constellations. This 25th-largest constellation appears as either a distinct “M” (fall and winter) or “W” (spring and summer) shaped asterism of bright stars that often catches the eye of novice observers who happen to gaze in the right direction. Although it is a northern circumpolar constellation that can be seen year round, it is found high above Polaris in December, which is when it is most easily viewed. This constellation is located opposite of the Big Dipper from Polaris, so try finding it by starting at the Big Dipper, and tracing a line northward (upward) through Polaris until reaching the first grouping of bright stars.

The Milky Way flows through Cassiopeia, and it contains two Messier objects, M52 and M103, both of which are open star clusters. It also contains numerous other NGC objects and two supernova remnants, including Tycho’s Star, a supernova recorded in 1572 by Tycho Brahe, and another remnant of a supernova that was seen 300 years ago. Interestingly, if our sun were observed from Alpha Centuari, our nearest solar neighbor 4 light-years away, it would appear to be located in Cassiopeia.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cassiopeia_(constellation)

603px-Cassiopeia_IAU.svg
IAU Cassiopeia chart, IAU and Sky & Telescope magazine (Roger Sinnott and Rick Fienberg), June 4, 2011.

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

Lyra (The harp or lyre)

Cygnus, LyraVega, the harp, or lyre, is a small, but pretty constellation northern constellation that contributes the bright star Vega (Alpha Lyre) to the Summer Triangle. Lyra is located between Hercules and Cygnus, and all of its main stars can be readily picked out, even in our light-polluted skies. It reaches its highest nightfall ascension in August.

640px-M57_The_Ring_NebulaLyra is home to two Messier objects. M56 is a rather loose globular cluster of stars located near Hercules’ southern border with Cygnus. M57 is one on the most interesting Messier objects, and is also known as the Ring Nebula. It is located half-way between the two stars of the parallelogram asterism most distant from Vega. The “ring” is an emission nebula consisting of an expanding shell of ionized gas that was ejected from a red giant star late in its life about 6,000 years ago.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lyra

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

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