Skywatch for the week of June 13, 2022
Mon June 13, 2022 FLAG DAY
Tomorrow is Flag Day. On June 14, 1777, our national flag was adopted by the Continental Congress. The flag held thirteen stars, one for each of the original colonies. The current U.S. flag has 50 stars, one for each state. The arrangement of stars on flags does not as a rule correspond to any actual constellation in the sky, and the U.S. flag has gone from a circle pattern to a series of rows and columns, and of course there was even an arrangement where the stars were made into a great star image, such as the one that flew over the fort in Fort Pierce when it was built back in 1838. Sometimes the stars on flags do reflect actual star patterns, such as the use of the Big Dipper and the North Star in the state flag of Alaska, or the use of the Southern Cross in the flags of Australia and New Zealand; and Brazil’s flag features the Southern Cross, Canis Major and Scorpius.
Tue June 14, 2022 JUNE FULL MOON
Today’s full moon is in the constellation Sagittarius the Archer. It will rise in the early evening out of the east, and can be found in the southern sky at midnight. By dawn the full moon will set in the west. The names for the June full moon are many: according to the Ponca Indians, this is the Hot Weather begins Moon – no argument there. Back in Europe, this was the Rose Moon, so named for the pink color of this full moon, which rides low in the southern sky. The Omaha Indians call this the Moon When Buffalo Bulls Hunt the Cows; to the Tewa Pueblo it’s the Moon When the Leaves are Dark Green. The Winnebago call this the Corn Tasseling Moon, while the Sioux regard it as the Moon of Making Fat. But to the Objiwa Indians, this is the Lovers' Moon, named for En-a-ban'dang the dreamer and A-nou-gons', or Little Star, who first met when the full moon rose.
Wed Jun 15, 2022 SYZYGY
“Syzygy” is a great astronomy term; it’s when there are three celestial objects in a position where they line up. In the case of the earth, moon and the sun, syzygies happen every two weeks, at new moon or at full moon. A new moon syzygy is called a conjunction because the sun and moon are together in the same part of the sky. A full moon syzygy is called an opposition because the moon is on the opposite side of the sky from the sun. Most earth-moon-sun syzygies are rough alignments because the moon’s orbit of our planet is offset by 5 degrees from the earth’s orbit of the sun. but about every six months, during what’s called an eclipse season, the orbital planes of the earth and the moon intersect with the syzygy points (the intersections are called nodes,) and then you have a perfect syzgy which results in an eclipse.
Thu Jun 16, 2022 LIFESTYLES OF THE STARS
Stars shine by light produced through nuclear fusion in their cores, as hydrogen is converted into helium at a temperature of millions of degrees. When the hydrogen is used up, and the star begins to die. The less massive the star, the longer it lives, the more massive, the shorter the lifespan. There are small, cool red dwarf stars shining today that burned when the Universe was young. Our own sun has been producing light for five billion years, and will shine for another five billion years. Blue giant stars will only last for a few hundred million years at most – the more massive the star, the more profligate the energy and matter loss. When stars like our sun die, they don’t explode; they just shrink, heat up and brighten becoming a red giant star, then collapse down to a white dwarf, and then slowly go out. But the biggest, most massive stars explode as supernovas, or implode to become black holes.