Starry Starry Night: Let’s look for more bright stars | Lifestyle

Greetings to all!

The magic half hour this week is between 7:45 and 8:15, so go out around 8 one night this week and hope there aren’t too many clouds. The new moon was yesterday, so the moon shouldn’t be a real problem.

This week I’ll tell you how to find 15 out of 20 bright stars, so you should be able to spot them anyway unless it’s overcast. I told you how to find eight of the ten brightest stars last week and I hope you saw them.

So let’s look for more bright stars. The 11th brightest star is the bird in the constellation Aquila the Eagle, which is not visible during the magic half hour. It will rise to the left of the east after 11pm this week.

Finding the twelfth star on the list of a hit show is much easier. Just face west and look for the upper shoulder of Orion the Hunter. This is a very famous star and you all know his name. This bright red star is Betelgeuse, and is not named after the movie monster. Betelgeuse is an unstable red giant star that will eventually go supernova. There is another star in the eastern sky that may go nova this summer and I will tell you about it later.

If you go out shortly before the magic half hour, say around 7:30, measure a fist-width down from Betelgeuse and a fist-width to the right, and you may see another bright red star. This is Aldebaran, the thirteenth brightest star. Although it’s not an official part of Magic Half Hour, you can still see it this week.

The smallest constellation is part of the magic half hour. It’s Crux the Southern Cross and although it’s the smallest, it contains two of the 20 brightest stars. Alpha Crucis, the lower star of the Cross, is the 14th in the parade of bright stars and the left arm is Beta Crucis, the 20th bright star.

The 15th brightest star is Spica and it is relatively easy to find. Simply find the Big Dipper in the northern sky and follow the arc of the Dipper’s handle. It will first “curve” to Arcturus, the fourth brightest star, and if you continue to follow the curve it will “jump” to Spica in the constellation Virgo.

Antares, the 16th brightest star, is barely visible above the southeastern horizon as the magic half hour expires. Antares is the brightest star in the constellation Scorpius and will be easier to see later in the evening.

Measure a little more than a fist-width from Betelgeuse and two fist-widths to the right to find Pollux, the 17th brightest star. Pollux is one of the twins in Gemini. Fomalhaut, the 18th brightest star, is the only member of the 20 brightest stars in the star parade that cannot be seen at all in April. It’s on the other side of the sun now, even though we see it in the fall and winter.

Deneb, the 19th brightest star, will rise in the northeast after 11, so it is not part of the magic half hour, and the 20th is Beta Crucis in the Southern Cross.

Betelgeuse may eventually go supernova, but there may be a visible supernova this summer. Measure the width of the fist down from Arcturus and the width of the fist to the left. If you see a bright star there, it means the T-Corona Borealis has gone nova. It is a recurring nova and we may see it this summer.

It’s an amazing sky. Enjoy!

Pam Eastlake has been the former University of Guam planetarium coordinator since the early 1990s. She has been writing this weekly astronomy column since 2003. Send any questions or comments to life@guampdn.com We will send it to her.

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