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Marjorie
2003-Sep-01, 12:03 AM
Does anybody here know what the bright star in the northeastern sky that is visible about 11 p.m. is? It seems to come up in the northern sky and move further east as the evening progresses. It is bluish and twinkles a lot. A couple of people have told me that it's probably a planet as no star would be as bright as it seems to be. It's definitely not Mars as I've already seen it many times in the southeastern sky.

Archer17
2003-Sep-01, 12:20 AM
Does anybody here know what the bright star in the northeastern sky that is visible about 11 p.m. is? It seems to come up in the northern sky and move further east as the evening progresses. It is bluish and twinkles a lot. A couple of people have told me that it's probably a planet as no star would be as bright as it seems to be. It's definitely not Mars as I've already seen it many times in the southeastern sky.Welcome to the board Marjorie. Where are you located? You can find sky-charts on the net that will give you a snapshot of your local sky based on location and time. Does this star rise around 11 PM or is it already up from the horizon? Let us know, we'll be glad to help ya

eburacum45
2003-Sep-01, 12:23 AM
Vega?
The best thing to do is to learn some of the constellations yourself, and then you can find most of the others by looking at sky maps.
Cygnus, The Plough and Pegasus are good ones to start with.

Marjorie
2003-Sep-01, 01:28 AM
Archer17, you wanted to know where I'm located. I'm in the temperate zones of the Northern hemisphere. I'm not sure what time the star rises. It seems to be fairly high in the sky at 11 p.m. but rises higher as the evening goes on.

beskeptical
2003-Sep-01, 02:23 AM
You can log in for free to this site and get a sky map for any day from any place on Earth. They not only had my town in their data file, they had my neighborhood.

http://www.heavens-above.com/

I checked from Seattle and only got Mars for planets up at 23-24:00. It doesn't name all the stars but if you can figure out which star you are looking at you can find the name from other star charts.

kilopi
2003-Sep-01, 05:35 AM
Does anybody here know what the bright star in the northeastern sky that is visible about 11 p.m. is? It seems to come up in the northern sky and move further east as the evening progresses. It is bluish and twinkles a lot. A couple of people have told me that it's probably a planet as no star would be as bright as it seems to be.
If it ain't Capella, I'll eat my hat (http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?p=122006#122006). It's the sixth brightest star in the sky. Saturn rises below it about 2am, and it's quite a bit brighter than Saturn right now. I don't think it's so blue, though...

Kaptain K
2003-Sep-01, 01:07 PM
Capella is yellow and rises later in the night. My guess would be Vega.

Sky & Telscope has an interactive sky chart on their website (www.skyandtelescope.com). Enter your location, date, time and direction and it will generate a customized map of the sky. 8)

kilopi
2003-Sep-01, 02:24 PM
Capella is yellow and rises later in the night. My guess would be Vega.
Sure, based upon color and brightness alone. But Capella is very bright, and Vega is definitely not in the NE. Also, for most places, most parts of time zones, I believe Capella has risen by 11pm even with daylight saving time. It moves to the East too, whereas Vega does not.

Hamlet
2003-Sep-01, 04:23 PM
I agree with kilopi, it sounds pretty much like Capella.

Tobin Dax
2003-Sep-01, 04:54 PM
It couldn't be Vega. Vega is darn near zenith at 11 pm if your in the US. It might be Capella, especially after glancing at Starry Night.

Marjorie
2003-Sep-01, 08:26 PM
Thanks for your help. I've checked out the Heavens Above website. I haven't had time to do a really detailed study of it yet, but I found my home town with its exact latitude and longitude, and when I have a chance I'll do a real study of it and see what I can find out.

If that is a star rather than a planet, I'll be really amazed. It's sure bright!

Kaptain K
2003-Sep-01, 09:00 PM
:oops: :oops: :oops: :oops:

I was wrong. Vega is almost straight over head at 11:00 pm (at least from here - latitude 30)

However, Capella doesn't rise until midnight (again, from lat. 30). Of course, from farther north, it rises earlier.

kilopi
2003-Sep-01, 09:10 PM
However, Capella doesn't rise until midnight (again, from lat. 30). Of course, from farther north, it rises earlier.
D*ng, I forgot all about Texas. :)

Just north of say Albany, NY, USA, Capella doesn't even set--it's circumpolar, and at its lowest about 7:30 EDT. Then it rises higher in the northeast, moving eastward.

Still don't know about the blue coloring. Maybe it's just cold in Albany...

Hale_Bopp
2003-Sep-01, 10:42 PM
I lived in Florida for many years and was sitting there wondering what that bright star was about two years ago when I moved back north. Sure enough, once I got myself oriented, it was Capella, rising MUCH earlier than I was used to.

I was also surprised once night by a bright star in the northwest...Vega...which would not have been visible from Florida at that time of year.

Changing latitutde can be confusing!

Rob

Tobin Dax
2003-Sep-02, 12:18 AM
I agree, Rob. Luckily Salem, OR, to Urbana, IL, is only 5 degrees, not nearly as much as your change. Still the sky is different enough here.

ljbrs
2003-Sep-02, 01:27 AM
The star has to be [i]CAPELLA[i], which is the most luminous of the stars in the northeastern sky at 11:00, P.M., on August 31, 2003. Capella most definitely is there on August 31 (according to my trusty charts) and it would be the most noticeable star around in that part of the sky.

Go out and see for yourself (unless you live, as I do, in Michigan, where clouds seem to predominate whenever you want to look at the sky). In these parts, astronomers are forced to be versatile and often are meteorologists in disguise. Whenever there is a tiny piece of clearing in the sky around here, you will find some local astronomers attempting to make do with whatever they can find there.

ljbrs 8-[ :wink:

Grey
2003-Sep-02, 01:54 AM
If that is a star rather than a planet, I'll be really amazed. It's sure bright!
Welcome, Marjorie! If it twinkles a lot, it's definitely a star and not a planet (well, I suppose even a planet might twinkle if you were somewhere that has astonishing atmospheric turbulence, but I've never seen it). Since you're familiar with Mars, take a look next time you're out and notice that it's steady, unlike the stars around it.

Kaptain K
2003-Sep-02, 01:23 PM
Yep! If the planets are twinkling, it's time to pack it in. :o You aren't going to see much! :(

MAPNUT
2003-Sep-02, 01:28 PM
Another way to rule out a planet is that a planet is always on the ecliptic, the plane of the solar system, that is the path the moon takes. In the summer the ecliptic is low in the southern sky at night, the opposite of the sun, and in the winter it's high but still in the southern sky. No planet is ever north of the zenith in the northern temperate zones.

Kaptain K
2003-Sep-02, 02:08 PM
Another way to rule out a planet is that a planet is always on the ecliptic, the plane of the solar system, that is the path the moon takes. In the summer the ecliptic is low in the southern sky at night, the opposite of the sun, and in the winter it's high but still in the southern sky. No planet is ever north of the zenith in the northern temperate zones.
Emphasis added.

Good for a first approximation, but not exactly correct. The ecliptic is the plane of Earth's orbit only. The other planets orbit on other planes that are close to the ecliptic, but differ by a few degrees. The orbit of the Moon is inclined to the ecliptic by 5.5 degrees. If it was on the ecliptic, there would be a solar and lunar eclipse every month.

Marjorie
2003-Sep-02, 04:52 PM
You're right, Grey, it twinkles, or more precisely flickers constantly like a cand.e. Last night it seemed to change colour constantly, turning from blue to greenish to occasional red. It was beautiful. It also came up very early6 I saw it as early as 9:15 due north, and it moved eastward as the evening went on. I think there must have been a cloud cover in the northern sky the first few nights that I saw it. Mars doesn't twinkle at all. It's a constant bright light.

kilopi
2003-Sep-02, 04:56 PM
I saw it as early as 9:15 due north, and it moved eastward as the evening went on.
Gotta be Capella. :)

Marjorie
2003-Sep-22, 09:05 PM
Is there any possibility that this could be a man-made object such as the International Space Station? Last night someone told me that no natural object can be moving into the eastern portion of the sky because it would go against the rotation of the earth. That would also account for the unusual colour changes. The constant shifting from blue to other colours would make sense if the object has lights on it that are flashing.

It's coming out a bit earlier now, and I should have an opportunity to see what it does after reaching the northeast. From what I can see now, it seems to rise higher in the sky and start moving south or southwest.

cyswxman
2003-Sep-22, 09:27 PM
Couldn't be the Space Station because you would see definite movement of it. Also it woudn't appear in the same place. I have noticed this star before and upon consultation with sky charts determined that it is indeed Capella. At 41 degrees north latitude it is pretty low to my NNE about 10PM MDT.

Archer17
2003-Sep-22, 09:39 PM
Seems Marjorie isn't the only one noticing Capella ... ran across this tidbit (http://space.com/spacewatch/capella_030919.html) at space.com

Marjorie
2003-Sep-22, 10:18 PM
I saw that article too, Archer17. It talked about a yellow star, not a blue or multi-coloured one.

I'm not trying to be argumentative here, I'm just not convinced.

Heavens Above puts me on the 48th latitude N. Unfortunately I have not managed to get the time zone right. All I can get is Greenwich time. Maybe the software on the computers that I'm using isn't able to provide these personalized charts. It's a great idea, though. It would certainly make it easier to identify stars.

kilopi
2003-Sep-23, 12:51 AM
Last night someone told me that no natural object can be moving into the eastern portion of the sky because it would go against the rotation of the earth.
The stars nearer the north star appear to go around it in a large circle. When they are above the north star, they do move towards the west, because of the rotation of the Earth, but when they are below the north star, they move the opposite way--to the east. That's the only way they can complete the circle!

Marjorie
2003-Sep-23, 04:47 PM
Thanks for clarifying that, Kilopi. It is very low in the sky when it is apparently moving in the wrong direction. I'll have to pass that on to my friend. He's well educated but he isn't a professional astronomer. This board is so educational, it's great.

How would you explain the amazing colour change? Last night I looked at it through binoculars. Unfortunately, I had trouble steadying them enough for a clear view, but the colour change was more pronounced, not less.Usually when I look at something under magnification, I see a single coloured bright pinpoint of light, but this thing flashes almost like the lights on a police car. It's truly amazing. It went from blue to green to red in just a few seconds.

Kaptain K
2003-Sep-23, 05:51 PM
What you are seeing is refraction effects due to the fact that it is very close to the horizon. Different "cells" in the atmosphere have different indices of refraction. Not only do you get "twinkling" due to lensing effects, but the cells also act as prisms, so that at different times, different parts of the spectrum are emphasized. Go out six hours later, when it is almost straight over head. You will notice that it is much steadier.