Podcaster: Shane and Chris

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Title: Stars Your Should Know for Autumn Astronomy

Organization:  Actual Astronomy

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Description:  The Actual Astronomy Podcast presents Stars You Should Know for Autumn Astronomy.  In this episode Chris and Shane host their regular returning guest, Dave Chapman, who presents the latest in his “Stars Your Should Know” series. We go over the most interesting and prominent navigation stars for visual astronomy as well as some of the history, mythology and other cultural perspectives on the stars we see in the autumn sky.

Bio: Shane and Chris are amateur astronomers who enjoy teaching astronomy classes and performing outreach where they help the eyes of the public to telescope eyepieces.

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Stars You Should Know for Autumn Astronomy on Episode 364 of the Actual Astronomy show. I’m Chris and joining me is Shane. We are amateur astronomers who love looking up at the night sky and this podcast is for everyone who enjoys going out under the stars.

Before we get to Dave we have a couple Patreon Supporters to thank: Dom, Don! Thank you so much. 

Today we are joined by Dave Chapman for his 5th instalment of Stars You Should Know. I’ll read a brief intro. Then we’ll get going.

David Chapman is a physicist who worked for 31 years for the federal government. He is a life member of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada and was the editor of the RASC Observer’s Handbook (2012–2016 editions), co-author of Mi’kmaw Moons: The Seasons in Mi’kma’ki. He is a lifetime amateur astronomer. He lives in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.

Welcome to the Show Dave, good to have you on again!

Notes from Dave:

Stars You Should Know—Fall

(Dave Chapman, 2023)

Coming up: 

South Polar (November)

Focussing on classic Greek-Roman names with occasional indigenous references. The classic names are used in some GoTo telescope software for sky alignment (e.g. Sky-Watcher SynScan and Celestron).

Spectral classes O B A F G K M — Annie Jump Cannon


Star Tales (2018) Ian Ridpath

Star Names (1963) Richard Hinckley Allen

Sky Safari 7 Pro (star lore by Jim Kaler)

A Concise Dictionary of Astronomy (1991) Jacqueline Mitton

Stars You Should Know—Fall

11 bright stars —from mag. 1.2 to mag. 3.5 (most OK to find, even in the city)

—8 are used for celestial navigation (58 in all)  

—9 are used by Sky-watcher and Celestron as alignment stars

—3 constellations in Andromeda-Perseus myth *

*PEGASUS (Winged Horse)

    Markab alpha Peg (Saddle)

  • mag. 2.5 variable star, A0 blue-white
  • Navigation star, and Sky-watcher and Celestron alignment star
  • Southwestern star of Great Square of Pegasus

    Enif epsilon Peg (Nose)

  • mag. 2.4 variable star, K2 orange-red
  • Navigation star, and Sky-watcher and Celestron alignment star
  • Globular cluster M15 about 4 degrees to northwest

*ANDROMEDA (daughter of Cassiopeia and Cepheus)

    Alpheratz alpha And (also delta Peg) (the Horse)

  • mag. 2.1 variable triple star, B9 blue-white
  • northeast star in Square of Pegasus
  • Navigation star, and Sky-watcher and Celestron alignment star
  • very close to 0 hours in Right Ascension

*PERSEUS (hero, rescuer of Andromeda)

    Mirfak alpha Per (the Elbow)

  • mag. 1.8 variable triple star, F5 white
  • Navigation star, and Sky-watcher and Celestron alignment star
  • In centre of very large (3 degrees) cluster Melotte 20—Alpha Persei Moving Group

    Algol beta Per (the Demon’s Head)

  • mag. 2.1 eclipsing-binary variable triple star, B8 blue-white
  • precise period, 2.87 days; mag. 2.1–3.3 (see RASC Observer’s Handbook or Calendar)
  • not a Navigation star, but Sky-watcher and Celestron alignment star
  • open cluster M34 only 5 degrees to west

ARIES (the Ram)

  • at one time the position of the Vernal Equinox (now in Pisces)

    Hamal – alpha Ari (the Lamb)

  • mag. 2.0 variable star, K2 orange
  • Navigation star, and Sky-watcher and Celestron alignment star
  • Jupiter and Uranus both currently in Aries to the southeast of Hamal

PISCES AUSTRINUS (the Southern Fish)

    Fomalhaut alpha PsA (Mouth of the Fish)

  • mag. 1.2 variable double star, A3 white 
  • alternate name Difda al Auwel (First Frog)
  • brightest star in this list
  • “Lonely Star of Autumn” farthest from all first+ magnitude stars
  • Follow western side of the Great Square of Pegasus directly south—easy to find
  • Navigation star, and Sky-watcher and Celestron alignment star
  • Fomalhaut b first extrasolar planet (2008) 
  • Planet is called “Dagon” which means half man, half fish (2015)

*CETUS (Whale or Sea Monster)

    Menkar alpha Cet (Nostril)

  • mag. 2.5 variable star, M2 orange-red
  • Navigation star, and Sky-watcher and Celestron alignment star
  • More or less due south of Jupiter now

    Deneb Kaitos beta Cet (Whale’s Tail)

  • mag. 2.0 star, K0 orange
  • alternate name Diphda (Second Frog)
  • Navigation star, and Sky-watcher and Celestron alignment star
  • From Menkar. 2/3 of the way back to Fomalhaut

    Mira omicron Cet (Wonderful or Amazing)

  • mag. 2.0 long-period variable double supergiant, M5–10 orange-red
  • first variable star discovered; period ~ 330 days
  • typically mag. 3.5 to mag. 10

    Tau Cet 

  • mag. 3.0 multiple star, G8 orange
  • similar to Sol (our Sun)
  • at 11.9 light years, an easily observable nearby star

Green Star Question? Prize? Bragging Rights?

Anything to Add Dave?


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