Tag Archives: Naked astronomy

Skygazing : Top 20 bright stars in night sky

Some stars are brighter than others. Stars are classified according to their apparent brightness in the magnitude of -6 to 6. Negative values indicate brightest. Sun has a magnitude of -26 or so. While Venus has magnitude of -4 making it the brightest object after Sun and Moon. Let’s check which stars are visible in Surat tonight in the order of their magnitude.

Venus is visible after Sunset. To spot Venus look at towards North-West sky after Sunset. It will be shining bright enough to be seen in the dusk. It’s called as evening star. Mars, Jupiter and Saturn are visible after midnight in the east. So in the evening Venus is the only planet visible this week.

Sirius is the brightest star. Today if you spot Venus and continue to look around in the sky after Sunset, then possibly the second object you will see is Sirius. It is nearly at the same altitude as Venus but towards the West.

StarVisibilityPosition
SiriusVisible Towards West after Sunset
CanopusBarely
visible
Near horizon towards South.
Goes below horizon after Sunset.
Rigil
Kentaurus
VisibleAfter 9 PM towards South.
ArcturusVisibleRises in the East after Sunset
& shines brightly whole night
VegaVisibleRises after 9:30 PM
in the North-east sky.
CapellaVisibleVisible after Sunset nearby
Venus
till 9PM or so.
RigelBarely
Visible
Follows Sunset and
visible near horizon for sometime.
ProcyonVisibleShines brightly high in sky after Sunset.
Visible till midnight.
AchernarNot
visible
Below horizon in South whole night
HadarVisibleRises barely high enough in the south sky after 9PM.
But is bright enough to be spotted.
AltairVisibleVisible near midnight through all night.
Rises from East follows Arcturus path.
AcruxVisibleJust slightly above the horizon in exact South.
Cannot see if you have buildings around you.
AldebaranBarely
visible
Almost about to set near horizon after Sunset.
AntaresVisibleRises after 9 PM in the South-East sky.
My favorite this month.
Brightest in Scorpius constellation
SpicaVisiblePasses overhead. Visible all night.
Brightest in Virgo constellation
PolluxVisibleVisible above Venus along with Castor.
FomalhautBarely
visible
Barely visible before Sunrise.
DenebVisibleRises in the north sky after 11pm
following the trajectory similar to Vega
MimosaVisibleAlso called Becrux visible after Sunset
near South till midnight.
Stays close to horizon.
Partners with Hadar, Rigel, Acrux, Gacrux and Decrux
RegulusVisibleVisible overhead after Sunset till midnight in West.
Brightest star in Leo constellation

So you can see many stars in the night sky after Sunset before midnight. By talking a walk after dinner you will be able to see maximum stars.


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Skygazing : Apparent motion of the stars

Earth revolves around the Sun and rotates on its own axis. Moon revolves around the Earth. Since Earth rotates on its axis from West to East, the sky appears to move from East to West. This can be seen easily with the movement of Sun and Moon across the sky during the span of hours. Similarly at night, stars move across the sky. Even though stars are very far away from us and they are not in moving around us, but due to the motion of Earth on its axis it seems that stars are moving around us.

Sky moves gradually over the night. If you are into sky gazing and enjoy looking at the stars, planets and Moon, you will notice slight movement of these objects with passing of hour. Often by using camera locked onto to a particular star, beautiful star trails are captured which so how the apparent movement of stars is a beautiful phenomenon.

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Some move right while others move left. Now that we understand that stars move in the sky from East to West, you will find that when you are facing towards the North, the sky seems to move from your right hand side towards your left hand side. When you are facing the South, the sky seems to move from your left hand side towards your right hand side. This apparent movement becomes a great experience when you observe the stars from a vantage point high enough to get a good glimpse of horizon in all sides. You will feel as if there is a line passing through from the sky to your location and all stars North of it move in a certain direction and all stars South of it move in opposite direction.

South sky is light up in Surat. If you observe Scorpius constellation rise in the sky tonight from Western India, it will be coming up in the South-East sky and slowly move towards the West not rising high enough to reach overhead. While Virgo would be higher than Scorpius and too far ahead will be Leo. All this while you are facing the South. You will see many stars directly towards the South shining in groups. Hadar, Rigel and Regor are particular in this sky. Canopus is not visible in summer.

North star helps to determine the direction at night. Then if you look in the opposite direction towards the North, you will see Vega star coming up in the sky late into the night and the Ursa Major and Ursa Minor are going round about the Pole star. Venus is on the left hand side of you towards the west and it will go down the horizon.

More you look more you see. As you keep looking at the sky and your eyes get adjusted to darkness you will see more and more stars coming up like little bulbs of light


Skygazing : Stars visible on 9th May 2020 in Surat

Best view of Virgo constellation.

Let your eyes adjust to darkness for best experience. It will take 30-45 mins.

09:00 PM Surat

Stars in Virgo constellation

Moon is yet to rise tonight. In another 30 minutes moon will shine bright in the sky, but until then I enjoyed the view of Virgo constellation and the stars in it. As often the bright stars Spica and Porrima are easily identified. They are nearly overhead slightly towards the East. Following in near Spica towards the left, Syrma and 109 Vir are visible. Towards the top, Porrima is forming a V shape with other stars like Zaniah, Zavijava on oneside and Mineleva and Vindemiatrix on the other side.

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As the stars are above head, it is getting a bit difficult to constantly stare at them, but once you position yourself well, you can enjoy the complete picture forming an imagination of a Virgo constellation in your mind with the stars in the sky.

Another group of 4 stars forming a nearly perfect quadrilateral image in the sky near by Spica towards the South. Those are Minka, Gieneh Gurab, Algorab & Kraz. They can be mistaken for Libra constellation.

Just rising up in sky from the east is Scorpius constellation. Four stars are visible – Antares, Acrab, Dschubba and π Sco.

Towards the south now familiar Hadar, Becrux and Gacrux are visible. Some more stars of less magnitude are shining in the south sky. Menkent is visible clearly enough. Rigilkent has not come up

10:00 PM

Moonrise shining beautifully.

After adjusting for darkness I was able to see Libra constellation above Scorpius.


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Skygazing : Stars visible on 8th May 2020 in Surat

Let your eyes adjust to darkness for best experience. It will take 30-45 mins.

08 May 2020 09:30 PM Surat

Antares is visible. Antares is the brightest star in Scorpius constellation. The three stars in this constellation which form a line and signify claw of the scorpion image are in close proximity to the Moon. One star on the left is very near to the Moon (conjunction) in the night sky as seen from Earth, though in space all objects are too far and nothing is behind one another.

Antares is going to be in conjunction with Moon at 4 am.

08 May 2020 08:30 PM Surat

Moonrise with a yellowish taint. Shining bright in the night sky. Yellowish glow around the moon is seen. Slowly the sky is getting bright.

Regor goes down in the South-West sky. It is visible fairly bright in the South sky. Other stars are dimly visible around it.

Stars in Libra constellation

Due to close proximity to Moon in the sky tonight, it is difficult to make out any stars in the Libra constellation at this time. As the sky moves towards the west with hours passing by, they may be visible.

08 May 2020 08:00 PM Surat

Stars in Orion constellation

Orion is in the west sky and visible after sunset.

Stars in Leo constellation

After sunset Leo is rising high in the sky at zenith. Between 7-9pm it is best visible today since the Moon has not risen yet. At 8pm Leo is right above the head. Regulus, Algieba, Denebola and Chort are visible.

Stars in Virgo constellation

Distinctly visible stars in the Virgo constellation are Spica and Porrima. Even after the Moonrises, they shine bright enough to be visible. Yesterday during full moon the sky was shining bright as it was super moon. It was bright enough that light from the moon was casting shadow and it was glazing the windows, balconies and streets.

FULLMOON SKY WITH CLOUDS ON 7th May in SURAT

Another group of 4 stars forming a nearly perfect quadrilateral image in the sky near by Spica towards the South. Those are Minka, Gieneh Gurab, Algorab & Kraz. They can be mistaken for Libra constellation.


SKYGAZING : Location of Planets in Summer Sky as seen from Surat, India

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

WHEN
May 2020

WHAT YOU CAN SEE
Planets –
Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn

WHAT YOU NEED
Sense of Direction, Observation Skills & Patience a lot of it.


MERCURY

Mercury is an interior planet with respect to the Earth. It is the closest planet to the Sun. So you will see it either right before Sunrise or after Sunset. It is very small planet so spotting Mercury in the sky is quite some challenge. It might take some time to get a hang around it as well as your local conditions must be good enough to be able to see it as it will often be seen only around the horizon where maximum obstacles are seen or pollution interferes.

A planet is said to be inferior or interior with respect to another planet if its orbit lies inside the other planet’s orbit around the Sun.

In Surat which is an urban city with dense population and vehicular movement, sky at the horizon is usually obstruct by buildings or covered in dark clouds caused by pollution. You may either take a vantage point at a building’s terrace or find an open field near Tapi river where you can see horizon.

In the month of May, Mercury is close to Sun in the sky, so it is not possible to see it. So you may enjoy looking at Venus during this time. Mercury revolves the Sun in 88 days, so it goes around in the sky from East to West with in that duration.

Position of Mercury as seen from Earth in May 2020

VENUS


Venus is the brightest object in the night sky after Moon. It shines bright enough to be seen in the presence of Sun at Sunset or Sunrise. You may get it confused with Sirius star which looks almost similar but you just need to find if it’s twinkling or not to be able to identify Venus. Yes, planets don’t twinkling in sky due to their proximity to Solar system as well as they don’t have their own light. Planets reflect the light of Sun, just like the Moon.

Venus is interior planet like Mercury. It is seen either before Sunrise or after Sunset as per it’s position in the orbit around Sun. In May it is seen the west after Sunset.

And yes, planets undergo phases just like the Moon, however it is not possible to see the phasing details with naked eye. However using a sufficiently strong telescope, phases of Venus can be seen just like how Galileo did.

Venus is shining bright in the west sky right after the Sunset. It shines bright enough to be confused with a light bulb. Follow the Sun in the evening and enjoy the Sunset. Right after sunset, you will see a bright star shining in the sky in the same direction, that is Venus. Venus is visible until 9 PM or so in Surat. The altitude of Venus will be around 30 degree from horizon when you will be able to see it the best.

Sunset is at 7:05 PM today.


MARS


Mars can be seen from 2 am onwards in Surat towards the South-East sky. All planets follow the elliptical. Once you get a hang of it, you would know where the planets may be located. Currently all the 3 exterior planets visible to naked eye are in sequence in the night sky.

Mars, Jupiter and Saturn are superior planets visible to naked eye. Since they have orbits larger than Earth, they follow the movement of sky as seen from Earth. You can see these planets rising and setting down. Currently the rising hours are near midnight so they can be seen for around 3-5 hours depending upon the Sunrise.

A planet is said to be superior with respect to another planet if its orbit lies outside the other planet’s orbit around the Sun.

POSITION OF MARS, JUPITER & SATURN AS SEEN FROM EARTH IN MAY 2020

JUPITER


Jupiter is visible first in the east sky at night in the sequence of the three exterior planets visible with naked eye. It can be seen clearly from 12:30 am onwards.

Jupiter is very bright and easily spotted in the sky. Once identified, it can be taken as a reference to spot Saturn, which is very dim and Mars which is fairly bright in itself.


SATURN


Saturn is following Jupiter in the sky as seen from Surat. As Jupiter rises high in sky sometime after that, Saturn will start to shine very dim. As it rises up in the sky and night starts to fall in, it gains some sharpness.


SOLAR SYSTEM 101

SOLAR SYSTEM 101 BY NGC

Looking for stars and constellations in the night sky, check out here.


To know more about Night Sky, Naked Astronomy, Solar System, Planets, Stars and Cosmos check out our series about SKYGAZING.