Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Ellensburg Sky for the week of 4/28/12

Saturday: Jupiter is rapidly disappearing from view as it moves closer and closer to the Sun in the evening sky. At 8:30, Jupiter is a half a fist held upright and at arm’s length above the west-northwest horizon. By next week, it will be lost in the glare of the Sun. A few weeks later, it will be visible in the morning sky.

Sunday: Many ancient philosophers thought the pattern of movement in the heavenly bodies represented a “musica universalis” ore “universal music”. For example, Pythagoras, the right triangle guy, hypothesized that the Sun, Moon, and planets emitted their own characteristic hum based on their orbital motion. Of course we now know that it not the case. But that does not mean astronomy and music are unrelated. At 1:00 Pacific Daylight Time today, Italian pianist and composer Giovanni Renzo will give an online Cosmic Concert with music to accompany beautiful pictures and videos of the night sky. Go to for more information about the concert and for a live stream of the concert.

Monday: In honor of the mentioning of Pythagoras yesterday, Mars, the bright star Regulus, and the Moon make a right triangle in the southern sky at 9 p.m. Regulus is at the right angle.

Tuesday: Winter must be over because the winter constellations are becoming less visible. Orion is setting due west starting at about 9 p.m. At this time, Orion’s belt is a little more than half a fist above the west horizon and Betelgeuse is nearly two fists above the west horizon. By mid-May, Orion will be lost in the glare of the Sun.

Wednesday: Do people think you have a magnetic personality? The star Cor Caroli understands how you feel. Cor Caroli has one of the strongest magnetic fields among main sequence stars similar to our Sun. This strong magnetic field is thought to produce large sunspots that cause the brightness of Cor Caroli to vary. Cor Caroli is nearly straight overhead at 10:30 p.m.

Thursday: Venus is two and a half fists above the west horizon at 9 p.m.

Friday: This is just a Pythagorean week. At 9 p.m. Saturn, the bright star Spica, and the Moon make a right triangle low in the southeast sky. If you are already regretting watching boring golf on Sunday rather than listening to the Cosmic Concert, go to and watch nearly two minutes of real footage of Saturn and Jupiter from NASA’s Voyager and Cassini spacecraft.
The positional information in this column about stars and planets is typically accurate for the entire week. This column is also available online at

No comments: