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Frostburg State Planetarium. Presents Summer Sky Sights 2010 Sky Basics – Current Sky Sights – 3 Charts Review Questions, Choices & Answers What’s Ahead for the rest of year

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Frostburg State Planetarium


Summer Sky Sights 2010

Sky Basics – Current Sky Sights – 3 Charts

Review Questions, Choices & Answers

What’s Ahead for the rest of year

Frequently asked questions

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Sky Basics – Key Sights & Changes

  • Every night star is a distant sun, so far away that

    their distances have shrunk them to points

  • Even our neighbor planets are so remote that they appear as steadily shining points among the stars

  • Only the sun (our star) and our moon have discs

    that we can see with our eyes

  • As moon moves about Earth, we see varying parts of its daylit half, causing the changing shapes

  • Earth’s spin causes sky objects to drift westward

  • Our motion changes evening groups each season

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Best Sky Sights in Summer 2010

  • Venus is a brilliant, steady point in western dusk

  • Big Dipper’s handle arcs to bright star Arcturus

  • Bright Vega in E is top star of Summer Triangle

  • See Milky Way in lower part of Summ.Trian.

  • See Scorpion (like ‘J’) & Tea Kettle low in S

  • Bright planet Jupiter late summer in E late evening

  • Cassiopeia low in North resembles letter ‘W’

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Review Sky Questions

  • Name 2 bright planets on evenings this summer

  • (Mars, Saturn) (Venus, Jupiter) (Pluto,Mercury)

  • Answer is Venus in West & Jupiter in East

  • Which 2 star groups resemble letters (‘W’ & ‘J’)?

  • (Big Dipper, Leo) (Cassiopeia, Scorpion)

  • Ans. Cassiopeia (‘W’) in N, Scorpion (‘J’) in S

  • In what direction do sky objects seem to drift?

  • N, E, S or W? Ans. Earth moves E so sky rolls W

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2010 Fall Sky Sights?

  • As Venus disappears in W, Jupiter seen in E

  • Bright golden star Capella appears in NE

  • To right of Capella is Pleiades (7 Sisters)

  • Jupiter (in Pisces) high in S, late fall even.

  • Orion (3 star belt) in E on late fall even.

  • Lunar eclipse in AM hours on Dec. 21

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See with Eye, Binoculars, Telescope?

  • Darkest night (no moon), far from stores, streetlights, may see as many as 1000 stars

  • 5 planets during course of year can be seen

  • With Binoculars can see many thousands of stars all over sky, moon’s lava plains, Jupiter’s big moons, dozens of *clusters, & few galaxies beyond our own (furry)

  • Small telescope even more stars, moon’s craters, all 8 planets, Saturn’s rings, Jupiter’s cloud belts, phases of Venus, gas clouds, double stars & dozens of galaxies beyond our own

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Why are Hubble Pictures so great?

  • Our atmosphere is like a pond of gently moving water through which we view the universe.

  • Star twinkling is due to bending of thin threads of light from the stars by atmospheric turbulence.

  • Even large telescopes on mountain tops suffer from the atmosphere that lies above them.

  • Recently, new techniques used to reduce effects.

  • Hubble telescope is 360 miles up, no interfering atmosphere – get very sharp images easily

  • Digital images sent down to Earth by radio.

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Three types of Hubble images

  • Gas Clouds/Nebulae (latin for Clouds) 2 kinds 1. Shells of multicolored gases around dying * 2. Gas clouds from which new stars can form

  • Planet Images that nearly match the sharpness of space probe images that have flown by planets

  • Galaxy Images: Especially Spiral Galaxies and Colliding galaxies, images from large Earth telescopes of same galaxies lack sharpness

  • Other large telescopes now in space view universe in ultraviolet, infrared radiation and X-rays.

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More about Hubble Images

  • Shells of gas around dying stars ejected when star becomes unstable as its nuclear reactions wane.

  • These shells of gas known as planetary nebulae

  • Large gas clouds are seen due to light of newly forming stars, lighting them from within.

  • Hubble images of Mars, Jupiter, Saturn crisp

  • Hubble resolve stars in nearby galaxies and trace out long drawn * strands in colliding galaxies

  • Hubble not aimed at Mercury, Venus, Moon/Sun

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Frequently asked questions

  • What are shooting or falling stars?

  • These are meteors, small pieces of grit being incinerated about 50 miles up.

  • Aliens? (High tech extraterrestrials)

  • While life may exist elsewhere in space, starflight involves vast amounts of energy. What would make it worthwhile for aliens?

  • Is the universe infinite or finite?

  • Present evidence favors an infinite universe.

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Your questions?

  • Any questions can be sent through email to .

  • The Cumberland Astronomy Club meets each 3rd Friday of the month at the LaVale Public Library just off Route 40, about a mile to the East of State Police Barracks.

  • Cumberland Astronomy Club has public telescope sessions at Frostburg’s City Park, off Armstrong Avenue in west Frostburg (see announcement of these events in Cumberland Times-News newspaper)