Our mission is to inform, educate and entertain by providing a varied and interesting program of activities for our membership and the communities we serve. Our projects include educational programs and presentations by guest speakers and our members, public star parties, field observation of various astronomical events and trips to observatories and other space science venues. If you are as interested in Astronomy as we are, we hope you will join us at one of our star parties, meetings, or lectures. If you would like to become a member please click HERE.
Imagine you are the navigator on an ancient pirate ship, commanded by an abusive captain who requires her helpless crew to constantly clean the ship’s equipment. You carefully approach her and offer the following observation: “Captain, all-the rigging seems properly polished (with castor oil and beetle-juice).” You have just accomplished 2 things: you’ve angered the captain; and you’ve just named 7 of the brightest stars in the sky!
During each season of this year we will follow the adventures of this sailing ship to learn the names of all the first magnitude stars of the northern hemisphere. This spring, an unhappy crew member will plan a mutiny, so stay tuned! But this month our adventure begins in the Winter Hexagon.
February’s Stars and Deep Sky Objects
The 21 brightest stars in the sky are called first magnitude stars. These are stars with magnitudes less (brighter) than 1.5. Seven of these stars appear every winter in The Winter Hexagon asterism (informal constellation). You can remember their names with the mnemonic: “CAPtain, AL-DE RIGging Seems PROperly POLished (with CASTOR Oil and BEetle-juice).” The stars, in order around the hexagon, are:
I first learned this as a child from the book How to Read the Night Sky, by W.S. Kals. (Thanks to my mom for finding it at the library when I was young, and to Stan for rediscovering it for me online!)
Beetlejuice and Rigel are in Orion which contains many familiar and no-so-familiar objects….
The Solar System This Month
This month’s moon will be new on Feb 4 and FULL on Feb 19. February’s full moon is traditionally known as the Snow Moon; and since this month it will also be a Super Moon (see the January 2019 newsletter), I guess we’ll call it the Super Snow Moon.
Mars is starting to fall behind the earth in our race around the sun and is slowly drifting towards the SW horizon. Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn are visible in the east at DAWN, with a Venus-Saturn conjunction Feb 18.
The February meeting will be a 7pm on Monday, February 4, 2019 at the Central-Clemson Library. We will share our observations and experiences from the past 2 months (including Comet 46P, the lunar eclipse, etc.); then we’ll discuss the February sky and any upcoming outreach events.
The March meeting will be Monday, March 4, 2019. at the Clemson Central Library. Telescopes and other equipment will be available for observing before and after each meeting for public observing and education.