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 Post subject: Advanced Stargazing Quiz (QM)
Unread postPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2009 12:40 am 
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Ladies and Gentlemen

One of my great interests is Astronomy. I've always been astounded by the magnitude of what is up there! And, as soon as I am away from city lights, I turn my eyes heavenward.

I love the current Astronomy Quiz, but feel that some of the questions may be too esoteric for some of the forumites here. It is still a magnificent quiz, and I hope it continues; stronger than ever!

However, I am instituting a new quiz, intended for the large majority of people on these forums. The intention is to get everyone looking at the stars when they're out at night. So, this quiz will be simple (mostly addressing the basics of stargazing), and most certainly practical.

The best way to do this is, in my opinion, is to concentrate on the constellations of the Zodiac. Everyone of us is born under one sign (unless you have multiple concurrent lives, which is most unlikely), and I wonder how many of you out there has actually seen your star sign in the skies?

Though concentrating on astrological signs, this quiz will not address astrology at all, but concentrate on the astronomical benefits (pun intended) of star signs. Zodiac signs are also seen in the northern hemisphere, so no-one will miss out.

This is a QM quiz and I will retain the right to ask what questions I deem beneficial to the majority. However, I invite every single (or married) forumite to participate here. Please post your answers freely!

I know that some people may feel intimidated by knowledgeable people on a particular forum - because they don't want to be judged, or appear ignorant - but there are no judgements here and no criticism of answers will ever take place. I will wait several days for the answers to roll in, then post the correct answer and, where applicable, give further practical advice.

:bdaysmile:
Happy Birthday to Me, Happy Birthday to Me :bdaysmile:
And my birthday gift to you all is this quiz ... Let the Fun Begin!

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EVERYBODY'S TR!
TR: A NEW DAY IS S-OWN
TR: NECTAREAN NICETIES OF THE NORTH
TR: PRIMEVAL PLEASURE

"Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." (Groucho Marx)


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 Post subject: Re: ZODIAC QUIZ (QM)
Unread postPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2009 1:57 am 
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Before I begin with the quiz, it is important that the stargazer must know which direction to look. Where is south, or north, or east, or west?

East and west are easy:
East is where the sun rises, but at night it is also where the constellations that move through (approximately) the middle of the sky rise from. The signs of the zodiac generally rise from that point during the night.
West is then opposite to east, or where the signs of the zodiac set every night (in the same place that the sun sets at the end of the day).

The stargazer can wait for stars to move to determine east and west, but that takes time and so is often impractical. What is much easier is to determine north and south.

Finding north in the northern hemisphere
In the northern hemisphere, north is most easily found by locating the Pole Star (Polaris), for many the most important star in the heavens. It is the end-star in the tail of Ursa Minor, the Little Bear; but to avoid technicalities, if you don't know where it is, ask someone! Most people in the northern hemisphere know the bright Pole Star. At the north pole, it is virtually overhead, and as one moves further south, it moves closer towards the northern horizon.

Face the Pole Star and you will be facing north; or draw a straight line downwarsd from the Pole Star to the horizon to be more accurate. Obviously, once you have north, south is in exactly the opposite direction.

Finding south in the southern hemisphere
The southern hemisphere does not have a bright star very close to south that could be used like the North Star is used to find north in the northern hemisphere. Fortunately, there is a constellation called the Southern Cross that we use to find south. The Southern Cross is a set of bright stars that cannot be missed once you know what it looks like. It looks like a kite - a diamond head with two pointer stars (that point towards the cross, or diamond head). Again, if you don't know where it is, ask someone. (There is a much bigger false cross that can sometimes confuse inexperienced observers.)

To find south, you need to first identify the two stars that make up the long axis of the cross. (The diamond head, or cross, has one axis longer than the other.) These stars form a line which "points" to an imaginary point in the sky which is above the South Pole. Measure the distance between these stars (hold two fingers close to one eye), and follow the imaginary line down from the two stars five more times the distance between them.
Then draw an imaginary line from this point in the sky downwards to the ground. That is south. And then north will be behind you.

And for those who sometimes mix things up, remember that, when you face north, east is to your right and west is to your left. When you face south, west is to your right and east is to your left.

(If any of you are still unsure, or find the above explanations complicated, send me a private-message request and I will try to make it easier for you.)

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TR: NECTAREAN NICETIES OF THE NORTH
TR: PRIMEVAL PLEASURE

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 Post subject: Re: ZODIAC QUIZ (QM)
Unread postPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2009 2:31 am 
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Good, no time like the present to begin! (The present is called the present because it is a gift to us! :clap: )

Let's get some orientation in the sky to start:
Question 1:
At sunset (and for some time after), a very bright star is seen over the south-western horizon. What star is that?

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TR: NECTAREAN NICETIES OF THE NORTH
TR: PRIMEVAL PLEASURE

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 Post subject: Re: ZODIAC QUIZ (QM)
Unread postPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2009 2:34 am 
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Venus? :hmz:

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 Post subject: Re: ZODIAC QUIZ (QM)
Unread postPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2009 8:13 am 
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I am going by a star chart and the closest bright star to the SW horizon is - Alnair in the constellation of GRUS .

Looks like we are definatly going to learn something .


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 Post subject: Re: ZODIAC QUIZ (QM)
Unread postPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2009 10:50 am 
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Not having a star chart close by I'll also venture Venus, the Evening Star. But I seem to remember (most probably incorrectly) that it might be another star - Sirius?

OWN, thanks for this - I'm sure we're gonna learn something.

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I believe that for man to survive, we must work with nature rather than against her. We need the land; the land doesn't need us. Too many people have lost sight of this fact. - Bruce Truter


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 Post subject: Re: ZODIAC QUIZ (QM)
Unread postPosted: Sat Jan 17, 2009 6:15 pm 
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This is going to be very interesting OWN!

We have a cheap telescope and a basic starwatching book published by Cape Town' Planetarium. Both are gathering dust through lack of knowledge!

Venus is a planet and not a star and is therefore misnamed as the Evening Star. However, I will also say Venus due to its brightness.


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 Post subject: Re: ZODIAC QUIZ (QM)
Unread postPosted: Sun Jan 18, 2009 1:03 am 
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CuriousCanadian wrote:
CuriousCanadian wrote:
Venus? :hmz:

:redface: I better keep an eye on not only the stars in the sky, but the stars on this forum!

Okay, let's catch up with question 1:
**********
Welcome Cherries. You noted, "Venus is a planet and not a star and is therefore misnamed as the Evening Star. However, I will also say Venus due to its brightness." :clap: I wanted to see who would pick up that the very bright star now over the south-western horizon is indeed a planet, not a star! It is indeed misnamed as the "evening star", but let me add also the "morning star".
**********
Welcome mikev. You were quite diligent in searching out an alternative: "I am going by a star chart and the closest bright star to the SW horizon is - Alnair in the constellation GRUS." Technically speaking, Alnair may be the brightest star in that area of the sky at the moment, but it is about 100 times fainter than Venus! Well done on your lateral thinking, but this is a site for beginners (I was going to say, "a site for sore eyes :huh: , and about 99% of stargazers probably haven't even heard of the constellation Grus.
**********
Welcome prings. Always a (wicked?) sense of humour: "I know a forumite who does this quite often [looks up at the stars at night]. However they don't remember the next morning." But, prings, you didn't give me an answer!
**********
Welcome bishop3006. You said: "Not having a star chart close by I'll also venture Venus, the Evening Star. But I seem to remember (most probably incorrectly) that it might be another star - Sirius? OWN, thanks for this - I'm sure we're gonna learn something." Sirius is indeed a very bright star, but is not in that part of the sky at the moment; but we'll get to the dog star later. And a pleasure, bishop3006 - I hope you do learn something!
**********
Welcome Nyamandlovu (glad you like the quiz) and CuriousCanadian. Venus rocks.
**********
THE ANSWER THAT I WAS LOOKING FOR IS INDEED VENUS.
On clear days, when visible, she always hangs like a bright beacon for all to marvel at!
Well done all those who got it right. :clap:
Well done to all those who posted here; thank you for trying. :clap:

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EVERYBODY'S TR!
TR: A NEW DAY IS S-OWN
TR: NECTAREAN NICETIES OF THE NORTH
TR: PRIMEVAL PLEASURE

"Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." (Groucho Marx)


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 Post subject: Re: ZODIAC QUIZ (QM)
Unread postPosted: Sun Jan 18, 2009 1:14 am 
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Okay, on to
Question 2:
Another easily recognisable part of the night sky is the constellation of Orion. Practically speaking, what does this constellation roughly look like (indicate a triangle, or circle, or square, or rectangle; and any other salient features)?

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TR: NECTAREAN NICETIES OF THE NORTH
TR: PRIMEVAL PLEASURE

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 Post subject: Re: ZODIAC QUIZ (QM)
Unread postPosted: Sun Jan 18, 2009 12:03 pm 
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AHA! Something I sorta know, and as a hunter can relate with! Orion, the Hunter. Looks like...? : :hmz: :hmz: ... an hourglass? The belt made up by three bright stars, and the two for the shoulders and the two for the feet. And the other three in a triangle for the head. And of course the three dimmer stars as the knife on the belt. And Canis Minor and Canis Major (isn't THAT where Sirrius is?) as his two accompanying hunting dogs?

Too busy now to go search for the (old) star chart.

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I believe that for man to survive, we must work with nature rather than against her. We need the land; the land doesn't need us. Too many people have lost sight of this fact. - Bruce Truter


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 Post subject: Re: ZODIAC QUIZ (QM)
Unread postPosted: Sun Jan 18, 2009 5:08 pm 
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Perhaps a cross with a line in the middle. Orion's Belt and sword is one of the few that I can spot in the sky but the rest of the constellation I would not know without the belt.

Other salient features - no idea!


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 Post subject: Re: ZODIAC QUIZ (QM)
Unread postPosted: Sun Jan 18, 2009 6:14 pm 
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The two stars Bellatrix and Betelgeuse are the shoulders of the hunter and Meissa completes the triangle being in the position where you would imagine the head of the hunter would be. Alnitak, Alnilam and Mintaka are the three belt stars more or less along the line of the waist of the hourglass (nice description, Bishop 8) ). Saiph and Rigel are at the bottom of the hourglass and if you imagine the hunter standing on one knee, Rigel would be his left foot (the star on the right if you look up at the sky) and Saiph his right knee (the one on the left).

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 Post subject: Re: ZODIAC QUIZ (QM)
Unread postPosted: Mon Jan 19, 2009 4:13 am 
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Heck JenB - that is indeed detailed and, of course, CORRECT. Everyone please remember that JenB has described Orion from a northern hemisphere perspective. For southern hemisphere observers, Orion will be upside-down, with his head and shoulders facing downwards, his knee and body upwards! Thanks for the detailed posting, JenB.

Cherries, glad you can spot the belt and sword of Orion. Keep these in mind, because they will be important pointers later to certain constellations (which is why I'm concentrating on Orion at the moment!)

bishop3006, excellent too. We'll get to Sirius and other stars soon.

I agree with the detailed explanations, but for the beginner, I suggest you look at Orion as follows:
-It is basically a large rectangular constellation - 4 bright stars, approximately forming an almost-perfect rectangle;
-It is visible from virtually every land-mass on earth! In the northern hemisphere and southern hemispheres, look for Orion after sunset.
-You won't easily see the head and shoulders and knee, and other body parts, if you're unsure how to form the constellation in the sky, so let's concentrate on the rectangle;
-Pretty much in the middle of the rectangle are the three bright belt stars, close together, and forming a diagonal;
-Almost at right angles (90 degrees) to the belt stars are three fainter stars close together, which indicate Orion's sword (or dagger for some) stuck into his belt;
-These represent the salient stars of Orion, and once you locate it, you will never miss it again!

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TR: NECTAREAN NICETIES OF THE NORTH
TR: PRIMEVAL PLEASURE

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 Post subject: Re: ZODIAC QUIZ (QM)
Unread postPosted: Mon Jan 19, 2009 4:30 am 
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Now let's get practical - after all, that's why I started this quiz!! I'm not here for the next week, so I will ask eight questions for the coming week - knock yourselves out!
And please get involved - don't be shy: answer everyone!
(And JenB, don't be afraid to answer, never mind what Imberbe says!)

Question 3
a) Look at the upper left, and the lower right, stars of the rectangle of Orion (for southern hemisphere observers, this will represent the lower right and upper left stars, respectively (it's upside down)).
(i)What colour are these stars?
(ii)What does these two colours suggest about the stars involved?

b) Extend the belt stars in a straight line until you come to a VERY BRIGHT STAR.
(i)Which star is this?
(ii)What is significant about this star?

c) Get out binoculars (all forumites here must have them!) and look carefully at the middle of the three sword stars.
(i) What do you notice about this "star"?
(ii) What is significant about this "star"?

d) And now, another part of the sky: just to show you something I bet you've never seen before, and didn't even know could be seen!
If you’re watching Venus (remember question 1 above) on January 21, 22 or 23 with binoculars, you may notice a moderately bright star-like object just to its top-left.
(i) Which "star" is this?
(ii) What is significant about this "star"?

CUST YER AYS HEVENWID, IND INJOY (with a Scottish accent)!!

(Answers in a week's time if enough people post)

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TR: A NEW DAY IS S-OWN
TR: NECTAREAN NICETIES OF THE NORTH
TR: PRIMEVAL PLEASURE

"Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." (Groucho Marx)


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 Post subject: Re: ZODIAC QUIZ (QM)
Unread postPosted: Mon Jan 19, 2009 4:49 am 
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@own...this is good,
Have alwsays wanted to learn a bit more about stars

BTW - Orion shape in the Sthn Hem is often referred to as the "saucepan"

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