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Episode 4 - Bayer Designations and
Astronomical Apps (Part 2)

(Pawling Public Radio 103.7 FM)

Welcome to The Astronomical Almanac.
I am your host - Bob Antol. I am a local astronomer in the Pawling area (Poughquag specifically), with a passion for all things astronomical.

Astronomy is the branch of science that deals with celestial objects, space, and the physical universe as a whole. This show, The Astronomical Almanac, will make you more comfortable with these concepts so you will be able to recognize, grasp and appreciate the universe around us.

This is the The Astronomical Almanac on WPWL - Pawling Public Radio - 103.7 FM - Pawling, New York.
And today's episode is entitled Bayer Designations and Astronomical Apps (Part 2).


Old Business



  >   The first segment of the program is something I call Old Business. This will be devoted to answering any questions from the previous episodes or to correct anything I may have said in error.

We will continue discussing Astronomical Apps in this episode.

The Astronomical Almanac will have the following format:

  1. Old Business - this segment here.
  2. Expanding Your Astronomical Vocabulary - devoted to defining astronomical terms.
  3. What's Up in the Sky This Week? - from planets to meteor showers to the space station and more!
  4. Astronomical Curiosities - exploring unique aspects of the world of astronomy.
  5. Did You Know? - a fun-filled trivia section.
  6. The Buffer Zone - personal recollections from my life as an amateur astronomer.

  <   This concludes the Old Business portion of the program. Next up ... Expanding Your Astronomical Vocabulary ...


Expanding Your Astronomical Vocabulary


Bayer Designations


  >   Each week, a term (or two) will be defined laying the groundwork for a more general understanding of astronomy. This week, in Expanding Your Astronomical Vocabulary, I will be discussing ...

A Bayer designation is a stellar designation in which a specific star is identified by a Greek letter, followed by the genitive form of its parent constellation's Latin name. The original list of Bayer designations contained 1,564 stars.

Most of the brighter stars were assigned their first systematic names by the German astronomer Johann Bayer in 1603, in his star atlas Uranometria. Bayer assigned a lower-case Greek letter, such as alpha (a), beta (), gamma (?), etc., to each star he catalogued, combined with the Latin name of the star's parent constellation in genitive (possessive) form. For example, Aldebaran is designated a Tauri (pronounced Alpha Tauri), which means "Alpha of the constellation Taurus".

In most constellations, Bayer assigned Greek and Latin letters to stars within a constellation in rough order of apparent brightness, from brightest to dimmest. Since the brightest star in a majority of constellations is designated Alpha (a), many people wrongly assume that Bayer meant to order the stars exclusively by brightness. In Bayer's day, however, stellar brightness could not be measured precisely. Stars were traditionally assigned to one of six magnitude classes (the brightest to first magnitude, the dimmest to sixth), and Bayer typically ordered stars within a constellation by class: all the first-magnitude stars, followed by all the second-magnitude stars, and so on. Within each magnitude class, Bayer made no attempt to arrange stars by relative brightness. As a result, the brightest star in each class did not always get listed first in Bayer's order.

But in addition, Bayer did not always follow the magnitude class rule; he sometimes assigned letters to stars according to their location within a constellation, or the order of their rising, or to historical or mythological details. Occasionally the order looks quite arbitrary.

  <   This concludes the Expanding Your Astronomical Vocabulary portion of the program. Next up ... What's Up in the Sky This Week ...


What's Up in the Sky This Week


  >   In this next segment of the program (What's Up in the Sky This Week), I will highlight events in the sky that are of interest to the average person. First up ...

  • Evening sky highlights
    24 Oct 2017 Saturn 3 degrees south of Moon
    24 Oct 2017 Moon at apogee
    28 Oct 2017 International Observe the Moon Night 2017 (also known as InOMN)
    One Planet. One Moon. One Night.
    Everyone on Earth is invited to join the celebration by hosting or attending an InOMN event and uniting on one day each year to look at and learn about the Moon together.
    Don't Just Stand There.
    Here are some activities for enhanced Moon watching.
    Impress Your Friends with Moon Knowledge.
    Download InOMN flyers and handouts, Moon maps and even some pre-made presentations. There's even a certificate to mark your participation.
    Guide to the Face of the Moon.
    Almost dead center on the Earth-facing side of the Moon is the Surveyor 6 robotic spacecraft impact side. Apollo 12 and 14 are a bit to the left. And Apollo 11 - the first steps on the moon - are to the right. This retro graphic tells the whole story.
    Moon Watch.
    NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter is up there right now, mapping the moon and capturing some spectacular high-resolution shots.
    Keep Exploring.
    Make NASA's Moon portal your base for further lunar exploration.
    30 Oct 2017 Neptune 0.9 degrees north of Moon

  <   This concludes the What's Up in the Sky This Week portion of the program. Next up ... Astronomical Curiosities ...


Astronomical Curiosities


Astronomical Apps (Part 2)


  >   In this segment, called Astronomical Curiosities, I will explore a unique and different aspect of the world of astronomy. Today's curiosity is ...

This is the The Astronomical Almanac on WPWL - Pawling Public Radio - 103.7 FM - Pawling, New York ... streaming live at pawlingpublicradio.org.

  1. Smartphone apps (that I use):

      (first, see III below)

    1. Astronomy
      1. SkySafari (5, 5 Plus, and 5 Pro) (https://skysafariastronomy.com/)
          Accurate Simulation
          Simulate the sky from anywhere on Earth, up to 10,000 years in the past or future. Animate transits, conjunctions, eclipses, and other events with time controls.
          Telescope Control
          With our SkyFi or SkyWire, SkySafari Plus & Pro apps can point your computer-controlled telescope anywhere in the sky.
          Largest Mobile Database
          25,000,000+ stars, 740,000+ galaxies, and over 630,000+ solar system objects, including every comet and asteroid ever discovered (numbers vary on version).
          Compass & Gyro Support
          SkySafari can help you identify stars, planets and constellations by holding your phone up to the sky - as you move the phone around, the sky chart follows your motion.
          Educational Content
          Hundreds of images from NASA space missions, the Hubble Space Telescope, and the world's foremost astrophotographers.
          Precision Graphics
          Computing the positions of solar system objects to sub-arcsecond precision with the latest JPL planetary ephemerides.
      2. Wunderground (weather app) [ PC | iPhone | Android ]
      3. myCSC (Clear Sky Clock) (http://www.cleardarksky.com/c/4173ObCTkey.html?1)
      4. Scope Nights (weather specifically for night time viewing) (http://eggmoonstudio.com/)

      5. SkyWeek + (from Sky and Telescope) (http://www.skyandtelescope.com/sky-and-stargazing-apps/)
      6. Deep Sky Browser (info on DSOs from many catalogues)
      7. Observer Pro (DSO availability from your location)
      8. Sky Survey (point phone and learn)
      9. Planisphere (similar to paper version)
      10. Sky Atlas (sky charts on your phone)
      11. Exoplanet (keep up to date on exoplanets)
      12. Star Atlas (where are objects via sky charts)
    2. Solar System
      1. What's Up (planets in the sky)
      2. Solar Monitor (latest solar data)
      3. SoHO (different views of the Sun [now])
      4. Eclipse Safari (countdown to April 8, 2024 total solar eclipse)
      5. Aurora Fcst (monitors auroral activity)
      6. iFlares (predicts brightening of polished antennas on the 90 Iridium communication satellites) (http://pleasantsoftware.com/iFlares/)
      7. Moon Atlas (view any part of the Moon)
      8. Moon Maps (highlighting the Moon's terminator)
      9. MoonMapPro (select area, view and learn)
      10. Gas Giants (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune - positions of Moons)
      11. JupiterMoons (positions of Moons [S&T]) (http://www.skyandtelescope.com/sky-and-stargazing-apps/)
      12. SaturnMoons (positions of Moons [S&T]) (http://www.skyandtelescope.com/sky-and-stargazing-apps/)
      13. Pluto Safari (upcoming flyby of 2014 MU69 - days until and distance to)
    3. NASA
      1. NASA TV (watch NASA TV)
      2. APODViewer (Astronomy Photo Of the Day)
      3. SatelliteSafari (monitor location of hundreds of satellites)
      4. GoSatWatch (similar to SatelliteSafari)

  2. Laptop / Desktop apps (that I use):
    1. Starry Night (http://www.starrynight.com/starry-night-7-professional-astronomy-telescope-control-software.html)
    2. TheSky6 and TheSkyX (http://www.bisque.com/sc/pages/TheSkyX-Editions.aspx)
    3. KnightVision (http://knightware.biz/knightvision/knightvision.htm)
    4. New Astronomy Press CCD Calculator (http://www.newastro.com/book_new/camera_app.html)

  3. The 11 best astronomy apps (from BusinessInsider.com) with apps I use in bold:
    1. SkySafari (5, 5 Plus, and 5 Pro)
    2. Starmap (night's best selection and compass / gryo sky viewing)
    3. Pocket Universe
    4. Solar Walk
    5. Deluxe Moon HD (lets you keep track of the moon phases, daily moonrise and moonset times, and what distance the moon is from the Earth)
    6. Star Walk
    7. Star Chart
    8. Distant Suns
    9. NASA app (great resource for details on the latest space exploration missions)
    10. Sky View
    11. Night Sky Lite

  <   This concludes the Astronomical Curiosities portion of the program. Next up ... Did You Know? ...


Did You Know?


  >   This segment of the program will be devoted to little bits of trivia that can be shared at parties, family get-togethers, reunions. Hey, the next time you are at a bar and there is a lull in the conversation, simply yell out Did You Know ... and share the following!

Earth's Shadow at Sunset / Sunrise: At sunset the Earth's shadow is visible opposite the sunset in the eastern sky, just above the horizon. The shadow shows as a dark blue band that stretches over 180 of the horizon. At sunrise, the Earth's shadow can be seen to set as the sun itself rises, and at sunset, the Earth's shadow rises as the sun sets.

  <   This concludes the Did You Know? portion of the program. Next up ... The Buffer Zone ...


The Buffer Zone


  >   If there is still time left in the program, this segment (The Buffer Zone) will be devoted to 'personal recollections' of the things that initially got me interested in astronomy.

The Astronomical Almanac can be found on the web at http://www.stargate4173.com/wpwl/.

You will be able to see:

  • The format of the show
  • Links to the music from the show
  • Links to the notes for each episode
  • My bio

  <   This concludes the The Buffer Zone portion of the program.

This has been The Astronomical Almanac
on WPWL - Pawling Public Radio - 103.7 FM - Pawling, New York.
I have been your host - Bob Antol.
I hope you enjoyed today's show and are a little more comfortable with the topics I discussed so you can now more easily recognize, grasp and appreciate the universe around us.
On next week's show, the episode will be entitled Positional Astronomy and Messier Objects.

Clear skies ... and don't forget ... to look up!

copyright © 2017 Robert A. Antol