News, Updates, and Resources for Constellations Tonight
Download article LED Pointers Made Easy (MS Word file).
John French's LED light pointer - Made with an old lens from a slide projector, PVC fitting, and superbright LED
Resource Guide: Books, Articles, and Websites on the Astronomy of Many Cultures from Around the World, by Andrew Fraknoi (Astronomical Society of the Pacific and Foothill College) - annotated listing of over 90 books, articles, and websites that deal with the astronomy of diverse cultures around the world. The readings cover the astronomical work and ideas of South and Central America, Hawaii and Polynesia, Africa, India, and Islamic countries. Also included are the astronomical ideas of the Native Americans of North America, issues relating to people of color in the U.S., plus a small set of readings about Asian and ancient European cultures.
African Skies curriculum book (PDF - 1Mb). Includes African star map on page 17. This product was produced by Lawerence Hall of Science staff for the Learning Technologies Inc. African star cylinder.
2007 Mar 18. Astronomy in the Harry Potter Series, by Mike Weinstein - Looking at various astronomical topics that come up in the books, to see how they compare to astronomical reality. (Could Harry see Orion in June? How about Venus at midnight?) Includes all seven books.
2007 Feb 10. The Harry Potter Astronomical Marathon, By Mike Weinstein - Fictional account of staying up all night to see all the stars and constellations whose names are used in the books. (Except that it was written before the last book came out, so I didn't mention Draco's future son, Scorpius Malfoy. I think you can see Scorpius during the night in question as well.)
2006 January 9. NASA press release: There's More to the North Star Than Meets the Eye. By stretching the capabilities of NASA's Hubble Space Telescope to the limit, astronomers have photographed the close companion of Polaris for the first time. This sequence of images shows that the North Star, Polaris is really a triple star system. These findings were presented today in a press conference at the 207th meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Washington, D.C.
2001 Nov 20. Astronomy Classes, by Mike Weinstein - Brief discussion of Harry Potter's Astronomy lessons at Hogwarts.
Pleiades (Matariki) in New Zealand: The winter solstice occurs in June in New Zealand and there is a Maori event which marks the return of longer days. Around this time the star cluster Pleiades (known as Matariki) rises just before the Sun and provides a dramatic marker for the season. More information on Matariki can be found at http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/matariki-maori-new-year
Pronunciation of constellation names can be found at:
Japanese star stories online, http://www.amariver.com --Hideo Fujii, Ama River Publishing
Constellations and Stars--educational resource by Jim Kaler: http://www.astro.uiuc.edu/~kaler/sow/sow.html. Includes photos of the constellations
Follow the Drinking Gourd web page on Cryptology and The Slave Quilts, Patrick D. Weadon, National Security Agency website -- http://www.nsa.gov/publications/publi00011.cfm
Star Myths of the Greeks and Romans: A Sourcebook-- translation and commentary by Dr. Theony Condos
Story of Tanabata (Japanese)
A Halloween Story about Pleiades (from Laurent Pellerin)
Hard Copy Books
Brown, Dayle, Skylore from Planet Earth series: Skylore from Planet Earth: stories from around the world...ORION and ...PLEIADES
Kitao, Kouichi, Star Lore of Japan: The Starscape of a People. Ama River Publishing, Amhearst, MA. 2002. http://www.amariver.com
Kerrod, Robin, The Sky at Night: A Complete Interactive Kit, Barron's Educational Series, Hauppauge, NY, 2000. Helps beginners identify constellations and locate specific stars, explains astronomical terms and celesstial phenomena. Includes planisphere (42°N), red flashlight, star maps and guides.
Miller, Dorcas S., Stars of the First People: Native American Star Myths and Constellations, Pruett Publishing Co. 1997.
Native American Sky Lore (Book): Miller, Dorcas S., Stars of the First People, Pruett Publishing Co., Boulder, Colorado, 1997, ISBN 0-87108-858-4
From the Winnebago Nation of the Great Lakes region.
On Inuit star maps, the cluster Pleiades is sometimes known as Aggiattaat--a representation of the polar bear encircled by a pack of dogs. Orion's belt represents hunters in pursuit. These figures remain fixed in permanent chase across the night sky. [from Forest Magazine, Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics, Winter, 2002.]
Quick-facts about Slides of Astronomical Objects in Constellations Tonight
Whirlpool Galaxy (M51)
It is located off of the last star in the handle of the Big Dipper, on the concave side of the handle, in the constellation of Canes Venatici. It is a beautiful face-on spiral, with a companion galaxy and active star formation.
Distance: 37 million ly
The Pleiades (M45)
Best known open cluster of stars, in the constellation of Taurus. Known also as the Seven Sisters in Greek mythology and Subaru in Japanese mythology. There are 6-7 visible to the naked eye, and about 500 total.
Age of the cluster is approximately 100 million years.
Distance: 380 ly
Orion's Belt Region
Shows the three "belt stars" of Orion, and Orion's "sword". Shows the Orion Nebula, the Horsehead Nebula, and a reflection nebula near the Horsehead.
Distance: 1,600 ly
The Great Nebula in Orion (M42)
A diffuse nebula, specifically an emission and reflection nebula. It is the brightest diffuse nebula in the sky, visible to the naked eye. It is a "star nursery", with protoplanetary disks recently discovered.
Distance: 1,600 ly
A gorgeous image from Hubble Space Telescope: A BOW SHOCK NEAR A YOUNG STAR, a treasure within the intense star-forming region of the Great Nebula in Orion. http://oposite.stsci.edu/pubinfo/pr/2002/05
The Horsehead Nebula (Barnard 33)
A dark nebula in the constellation of Orion. A dark globule of dust and non-luminous gas, obscuring the light coming from behind, especially the moderately bright nebula IC 434. It is the most famous section of Barnard's Loop.
Distance: 1,600 ly