Sky gazing in Surat – May 2020


WHERE
In Surat, India
Co-ordinates are 21.1 ° N latitude 72.8° E longitude

WHEN
03-05-2020 8 PM onwards

WHAT YOU CAN SEE
Moon
Scorpius & Libra Constellation
Stars – Antares, Shaula, Rigil, Hadar, Spica, Regulus, Algieba

FOR BEGINNERS

Sky at night keeps moving every hour due to the rotation of Earth. So the stars move across the sky over the night. Stars also appear 4 minutes earlier every night. So with change in month, as you keep observing every night, you will find stars have shifted their position compared to previous night. And if you look for long enough like 6 months, you will find the entire sky has changed over that duration, since the Earth has rotated across the other point in it’s orbit around the Sun.

Stars appear 4 minutes earlier every night.

SCORPIUS CONSTELLATION

It is mid of summer here in Surat as we move into the month of May,. Surat was under lockdown from 25 March 2020 due to the on-going corona virus caused COVID-19 global pandemic. So there was not much activity carried out in terms of sky-gazing during the month of April 2020. However we start with new enthusiasm in May 2020.

Dark sky is clear. The best location to start look at is in the East for it is where the sky rises and it helps to keep track of the timing, position and movement. Little after sunset, if you look towards the South-East sky you will be able to spot a bright star – ANTARES. This will be a good starting point to explore the south sky.

Let your eyes get adjusted to the darkness. It will take around 30 minutes for a good enough experience.

Once you identify Antares, which is the brightest star in Scorpius constellation as well as one of the brightest star in the night sky. It will appear slightly reddish if you observe carefully. Following the Antares, you can go up and track the 3 stars of the constellation which look like the claws of the scorpion image. Two of them will be distinctly visible, the other one will take some time for you to adjust and identify.

Then it’s time to track SHAULA, which is bright enough to be spotted easily. Once you have the overlying area of the constellation. Keep looking for other smaller stars. It will depend on light pollution in your surrounding, air pollution, your eye sight, clouds in sky and other parameters. But if you keep looking, you will develop an habit of finding out details of the constellation and be able to find other dim stars. Hence completing your observation and tracking of Scorpius constellation.

Use star tracker apps like Sky-View or SkySafari to identify and spot the stars easily with the help of view finder.

It may take around an hour to be able to completely get the imprinting of a scorpion image on whose comparison in ancient world drew the pictures in their minds about the sky. At around 10 PM, the constellation would be high enough to be completely in view. If you are surrounded by buildings, then wait for the constellation to rise higher. You will be able to see it in the zenith, highest point in sky at around 12 AM or so. That would be the best time to view. If you are a night owl, then it is the best experience.

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LIBRA, VIRGO AND LEO

As you go higher in sky above Scorpius, you will be able to see 4 stars forming a quadrilateral. These stars are part of Libra constellation. 3 of those stars will be visible easily. Use app to see dimmer stars. Surrounding the sky in that area, other 4 to 5 stars are fairly visible and shine brighter, captivating your attention.

Facing exactly towards the south, you will see two stars shining bright like a light bulb in some buildings. Those two stars RIGIL and HADAR will stay close to the horizon. Other stars facing south which shine bright during the entire winter season in Surat are CANOPUS & REGOR.

Sky appears different based on your latitude. You will never be able to see some stars from your location. You will have to go either North or South.

If you look up the night sky over your head after 10 PM, you will see a bright star twinkling, that is SPICA. It is part of VIRGO constellation. Other stars are not so visible, especially due to the close proximity to bright Moon.

Moon was shining bright in LEO constellation for the last 2 nights. The bright star shining towards the west of moon was REGULUS. You can also see ALGIEBA. Leo will be going down in the west sky as night falls.

No access to North facing sky tonight. Some updates coming soon.

Some stars don’t seem to be twinkling, they are planets.


Published by Bhanu

Creator @ Surat Diaries. Interested in Education, Environment & Healthcare. Spends time looking at the sky, birds and nature. Writes about Life, Philosophy, Relationships, Career and Wellbeing.

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