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More Summer Asterisms
updated: Aug 02, 2014, 11:00 AM
Here are some more amusing asterisms from our Santa Barbara Summer skies.
We'll start with an asterism big enough to be seen in binoculars. Its formal
name is Brocchi's Cluster, also known as Collinder 399, after astronomers
who studied open clusters, which are clusters of young stars. You can find
it by looking a bit over a third of the way along a line between the bright
blue stars Altair and Vega in the Summer Triangle, high in the East at about
Look carefully at the bright patches of stars you encounter, and you'll see why
Brocchi's Cluster is informally known as the Coathanger.
It turns out that the Coathanger is not a cluster after all, as its constituent
stars lie at different distances, and only align by chance from our point of view.
That's also true of most of these asterisms.
A bit late for the French Festival, here is the Eiffel Tower. At least the last
article with Napoleon's Hat, and this one, have Bastille Day bracketed. The
Eiffel Tower is up in Ursa Major, the Great Bear.
Potentially useful on a summer day, but not so much in Santa Barbara as in some
other places, is the Flyswatter. This one's pretty small, and it's in the small
constellation Delphinus, the Dolphin, leaping just below the Summer Triangle.
If you spend some time on the beach watching dolphins, you can make use of the
Sand Shovel, in Coma Berenices above Leo's tail. Watch out for the tar!
Summer nights at the shore when the marine layer is absent are ideal for looking at
stars. Here is the Five Pointed Star, made of stars, overhead in Hercules.
In places where rain actually happens, a summer shower may result in a lawn full of
mushrooms. The Toadstool is found in Delphinus.
Summertime means holiday trips and higher gas prices. Don't stop at this filling
station in Ursa Major. The prices at the Gas Pump Handle are astronomical, although still less than in Santa Barbara. Ours
apparently has to be trucked here in spacecraft.
References for a Cloudy Evening
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