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Constellations in the Australian Sky

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on 15 May 2013

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Transcript of Constellations in the Australian Sky

In the Australian Sky Constellations Ursa Major -
The Big Dipper It is impossible to say how far from Earth a constellation is as each star varies in distance. Taurus’ brightest star, Alpha Tauri is approximately 65 light years distance from Earth, which is approximately 650 million million kilometres, that’s not a typo, it is 650,000,000,000,000 Kms! - The Milky Way contains about 200 billion stars Taurus The Milky Way Introduction We've all stood outside at night, gazing up into the endless night sky admiring the beauty of the tinkling stars high above, but what does it all mean?
The stars have many stories to tell. Some are fascinating facts, others are juicy legends. There are 88 constellations in the sky that are officially recognised (Rao, 2012). The following is just a small sample we see in the southern hemisphere and the stories they have to tell. Come on this journey and enjoy your trip along the constellations of Taurus, The Milky Way, Ursa Major (The Big Dipper), The Southern Cross and Orion. The stars of Orion vary in distance, from Bellatrix – Orions left shoulder – at 243 light-years to Alnilam at 1,359 light-years (Zimmermann, n.d.).

The Orion Nebula (the middle point of Orions belt), which, rather than being a star, is a formation of dust, hydrogen, helium and other ionized gases called nebulae, is 1,600 light-years away (Zimmermann, n.d.).

To put this in perspective: One light-year is the distance light travels in a single year, which is about 10 trillion kilometres (Zimmermann, n.d.) Distance from Earth Orion is one of the most recognisable constellations and can be seen all over the world (Sky Tour for Binoculars, n.d., para. 1). The notable parts of Orion are the stars Alnilam, Mintaka and Alnitak, which make up Orions Belt (Sky Tour for Binoculars, n.d., para. 1).

In the southern hemisphere, he appears upside down (Sky Tour for Binoculars, n.d., para. 1) where he looks more like a saucepan

Orion is best viewed from November-April, when the constellation dominates the sky (Weule, 2010) Location In The Sky The most common Myth is that Orion proclaimed he was the greatest hunter in the world and threatened to wipe out all animals. This dismayed Zeus’ wife Hera, who had him killed by a scorpion. Zeus then put him in the sky as a constellation (Zimmermann, n.d.). Legend Picture Credit http://arrrr.com/messier/m42.shtml http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m20wypO4rW1rrl8tfo1_500.jpg Picture Credit Orion is named after the hunter in Greek Mythology Name Origin Picture credit - http://lostinthemilkyway.wordpress.com/ Orion References INTRODUCTION
Joe Rao. (2012). How the Night Sky Constellations Got Their Names. Retrieved from http://www.space.com/15486-night-sky-constellations-names.html



"Taurus." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online Academic Edition. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2013. Web. 08 May. 2013. <http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/584408/Taurus>.


A curious mind (2012). Our home galaxy: Myths and facts. Retrieved from: https://blogs.stsci.edu/livio/2012/09/25/our-home-galaxy%E2%80%94myths-and-facts/

Astronomical adventures (n.d.). The Milky Way galaxy. Retrieved from: www.astrodigital.org/astronomy/milkywaygalaxy.html

Australian Aboriginal Cultures (n.d.). Aboriginal cultures. Retrieved from: http://www.emudreaming.com/culture.htm

History of the universe (n.d). The Milky Way. Retrieved from: http://www.historyoftheuniverse.com/milky2_2.html

How stuff works? (n.d.). How the milky way works. Retrieved from: http://www.howstuffworks.com/milky-way.htm

Starry skies (2007). The legacy of the Milky Way Retrieved from: http://starryskies.com/articles/2007/07/milky-way.html


JAMES B. (JIM) KALER referenced via - http://stars.astro.illinois.edu/

Jerry Coffey on December 1, 2009 Referenced via - http://www.universetoday.com/46444/big-dipper-constellation/

Kathy Miles, Author Referenced via - http://starryskies.com/Artshtml/dln/11-00/dippers.html


Window to the Universe team. (2008). Biome and Ecosystems. Retrieved from http.//www.windows2universe.org


Kaler, Jim . (2009). Rigel. Retrieved from http://stars.astro.illinois.edu/sow/rigel.html

Kaler, Jim . (n.d.). Alnilam. Retrieved from http://stars.astro.illinois.edu/sow/alnilam.html

Maddalena, Ronald J. . (1998). Betelguese. Retrieved from http://www.gb.nrao.edu/~rmaddale/Education/OrionTourCenter/betelgeuse.html

Sky Tour For Binoculars: Orion. (n.d.) Retrieved from http://museumvictoria.com.au/discoverycentre/infosheets/planets/sky-tour-for-binoculars---orion/

Weule, Genelle . (2010). Orion. In Summer Sky Tour. Retrieved from http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2010/01/06/2771371.htm

Zimmermann, Kim Ann. (n.d.) Orion Constellation: Facts About The Hunter. Retrieved from http://www.space.com/16659-constellation-orion.html . Name Origin According to www.seasky.org, Taurus is believed to represent the story of Europa and the bull (the constellation appears to resemble a bull). The story tells of Europa, daughter of Agenor who was King of Phoenica. One day Europa saw a majestic white bull grazing near her father's herd. The bull was actually Zeus in disguise. After allowing Europa to climb on its back, the bull whisked her off to Crete where he made her his mistress. History/Legend Taurus is best known for being one of the 12 members of the Zodiac. Put simply, the Zodiac is the sun’s celestial sphere (the path the sun appears to be travelling in) broken up into 12 sections, each section named after the constellation of stars that the sun aligns with at certain times of the year when viewed from Earth. Location In Each Season Taurus, the Bull, can be seen during the winter and the early spring in the northern hemisphere and from November to February in the southern hemisphere. Taurus is located approximately 4 hours 20 minutes right ascension and 16° north declination. Distance From Earth Name Origin According to History of the universe (n.d.).The name Milky Way refers to the milky patch of sky around Earth. The name ‘Milky Way’ is a translated from the Latin term "Via Lactea" which means Milky Road.

The Milky Way is viewed as the ‘Birds road’ because it reflects the observation that migratory birds tend to use the Milky Way as a guide on their way north. History Even though it had been named (despite nobody knew what it was) it was called the "Milky Way" based on its appearance. It wasn't until Galileo looked at this area with his telescope in the 1600s that the Milky Way was made up of thousands of individual stars
In 1785, William Herschel made the first map of the Milky Way. Herschel was the first to study the distribution of stars in space. He counted the stars he could see and realised that the stars were grouped into a huge disk formation Cultural Association The Aboriginal tribe, Yolngu believed that when they died they were taken by a mystical canoe to the spirit-island, called Baralku. The stars represented camp-fires burning along the edge of the river of the Milky Way. The canoe was then sent back to earth as a shooting star, letting their family on Earth know that they had arrived safely in the spirit-land.

According to legend, Zeus allowed his infant son, Herakles, to breastfeed on the milk of Zeus’s wife Hera, while she was asleep. Upon waking up, Hera tore her breast from the infant’s lips and the milk that spurted out formed the ‘Milky Way’. This means god lives in the sky. Location In Each Season According to ‘Starry skies’ (2007). We see a different view of the
Milky Way in each season throughout the year…
The Milky Way rises in the north and runs high across the sky through the stars Cygnus and Aquilla and across to the southern horizon.
During the summer it is the brightest view of the Milky Way.

The Milky Way in this season doesn’t have bright objects compared to summer. It comes above the north-eastern horizon through the stars, Auriga and Perseus and then passes below the southwest horizon through the stars Ophiuchus and Sagittarius

The Milky Way runs from northwest horizon in the stars: Cepheus and Cassiopeia, then runs through Perseus, Auriga and Taurus and then ends at the southeast horizon at the Canis Major.

This is the darkest view of the Milky Way. It rises in the northern horizon through
Cassiopeia and Perseus and ends along the western horizon through Gemini and above Orion. Distance From Earth Earth is approximately 26,000 light years from the centre of the Milky Way. However, it's large enough that even at 26,000 light years Earth is still inside the Milky Way. - Almost everything that we can see in the sky belongs to the Milky Way Name Origin The Big dipper is the most noticeable and
renowned part of the Ursa Major (the Great
Bear or The Plough). In America and Canada
it is known to be called The Big Dipper,
whereas in the United Kingdom and Ireland
they know it as The Plough. The Big Dipper
was titled by ancient astronomers like
Ptolemy and is one of the 88 officially acknowledged constellations in the night sky. History/Legend The Big Dipper is the most common
form of stars to be seen in the sky all
over the world, even with an unaided eye.
It is a formation of the 7 brightest stars
in the Ursa Major. Five of those stars
make up the bulk of the Ursa Major
moving group. Since two of the stars are
moving in opposite direction of the other
five, in 50,000 years the Big Dipper
constellation will reverse. Location In Each Season Distance From Earth The
Southern Cross Origin In 1516 Italian Andrea Corsali was the first to publicly draw and describe the southern cross. Another name for the southern cross is crux which is latin for cross. Crux is a modern constellation therefore has no myths from the Romans or the Greeks associated with the stars. Cultural Significance The constellation is seen as the head of the Emu in the Sky in association with the Coalsack Dark Nebula by several Aboriginal cultures. Also the Southern Cross was called Mirrabooka by tribes of south eastern Australia. The southern Cross has great significance, being used on flags, insignia and also in song to many countries of the southern hemisphere including Australia, New Zealand and Brazil. Location In Each Season The constellation is clearly visible in the southern hemisphere all year round but is at its visible best at 9 pm during the month of May. It is no longer sighted north of latitudes of 25 degrees.
Right Ascension : 12.45 hours.
Declination : 59.97 degrees. Distance From Earth The four major stars in the constellation are Alpha Crucis, Beta Crucis, Gamma Crucis and Delta Crucis. These stars range from 88 light years for the closest star to 400 light years to the furthermost star. Conclusion The Big Dipper is best visible in the Northern Hemisphere, especially in April. Every other time of the year it is seen on the right side of the northern hemisphere. Four stars make up the bowl of the big dipper, which means the other 3 make up the handle. The outside of the dippers bowl there’s two stars which are commonly called the pointer stars because they point towards the North Star. The seven stars that form the big dipper
are Alkaid, Mizar, Alioth, Megrez, Dubhe,
Merak, and Phecda. Mizar is a distance
of 78 light years from the Sun, 737,921,215,580,590km.
(The sun is another
149, 600, 000km from earth). When you do find yourself staring aimlessly into the luminous night sky, take a minute to engage in the popular formations in the constellations. We hope that with the information gathered that when you do by chance look into the sky hopelessly that you can see the mystery behind legends we uncovered.
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