Apr 19 2008
By: Forrest_Erickson  shortURL

The software, Cartes du Ciel (or Sky Charts) is a fun tool for amateur astronomy.
Available at (link...) for free.
You set it up for location with the icon that looks like an observatory.
For Maryville you can use the location of an overlook on the Foothills parkway: N 35° 37.594', W 83° 57.079', Alt. 2406
Use the icon that looks like a clock to set the time. Here in the eastern time zone we are at -4 hours (for Easter Daylight Time)offset from Universal Time.

The big image above is for May 4th facing south at about 10:00 PM
Some easy and familiar star patterns are given names and are called asterisms (link...). They include Orion the hunter who is just setting in the west. Three bright stars make up his belt. Next Gemini, the twins, up and to our left of Orion. Two bright stars mark the heads of the twins and roughly parallel rows of stars descend below towards the west, south west, horizon. Gemini has a wandering visitor this month, the red planet Mars. Mars is marked on the chart with a circle and a projecting arrow. To the south rests the regal Leo- lion and king of beasts. His mane and the bright start at his heart are usually the easiest stars to see in the lion's part of the sky. They look like a big reverse question mark. However, the presence of Saturn near the usually more solitary star at the bottom of the question mark confuses the lion's shape slightly. To the east is a very bright and red star, Arcturus. It can be found by "arcing along the handle of the big dipper towards the south"

From (link...)
Arcturus is a ged giant star. Our sun may become like this in about 5 Billion years. One day our very atoms may be touched by the sun!
The moon is nearly full just now and is challenging the stars, but on any clear night the Heaven above Earth can be enjoyed.
Amateure astronomy is even better in person... (link...)

Forrest Erickson

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