Sunday, May 24, 2009

Night Sky in May

-By Rishi Shah

The warm and clear night skies of this month offer the charming fascination of the planets and stars along with the thrills of numerous celestial entities that are spreading beautifully all over the sky. As the sky darkens the zodiacal constellations of Taurus (bull), Gemini (twins), Cancer (crab), Leo (lion), Gemini (twins) and Libra (scales) are seen unfurling across the sky from western to eastern horizon. Later at night Scorpius (scorpion), Sagittarius (archer), Capricornus (sea goat) and Aquarius (water bearer) are seen ascending the eastern sky till daybreak.

Constellations Bootes (herdsman) and Hercules (strong man from Greek mythology) are dominating the evening sky. They are floating almost overhead after sunset. Sparkling giant star Arcturus (Swati) that is sheer 37 light-years away festoons Bootes. Petit constellations Coma Berenices (Bernice’s hair), Canes Venatici (hunting dogs) and Leo Minor (small lion) are sliding towards western horizon. Cygnus (swan), Aquila (eagle) and Lyra (harp) are creeping into eastern sky. Their lustrously splendid stars Deneb, Altair (Sravana) and Vega (Avijit) sketch the Summer Triangle in the heavens. Long and slender constellation Hydra (water serpent) is slithering across the southern sky. It is carrying tiny Corvus (crow), Crater (cup) and Sextans (sextant) on its back.

Stunning open star cluster M39 decorates Cygnus. Its stars are barely eight hundred light-years away and could to be three hundred million years old. Depicted as two perplexing mice because of their apparent long stretched tails (caused by relative difference of gravitational tugs) these two mighty colliding galaxies (NGC4676) could be admired in Coma Berenices. They are three hundred million light-years away. As each spiral galaxy had passed through the other, they were pulling themselves apart. They would probably bump into each other repeatedly until they would coalesce in millions of years. Bewitchingly colourful reflection nebula NGC1333 sits superbly in constellation Perseus (mythological hero). It is fairly one thousand light-years away. The dusty regions indicate its tumultuous cradle of infant stars. Its chaotic surroundings could resemble the condition that had prevailed around our Sun during its birth that allegedly took place simply 4.5 billion years ago. Circumpolar constellations Cassiopeia (queen), Ursa Major (great bear), Draco (dragon) and Cepheus (king) are circling Polaris (Pole Star or Dhruba Tara) that resides in Ursa Minor (little bear) in northern sky. Constellations Camelopardalis (giraffe) and Lynx (fox-like animal) are moving towards them from northeast. Our glistening Milky Way Galaxy is rolling through Cassiopeia, Cygnus, Aquila and Scorpius.

Planet Mercury appears conspicuously after sundown in western sky in the vicinity of remarkable star cluster the Pleiades (seven sisters or M45) in Taurus. Planets Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune are gliding in the eastern sky before sunrise. They could be perceived well, if watched carefully with patience through the areas occupied by Capricornus, Aquarius, Pisces (fishes) and Aries (ram). Ringed planet Saturn rises late at night and gleams alluringly in Leo. Dwarf planet Pluto roams lazily between Sagittarius and Ophiuchus (serpent bearer). Asteroid 14-Irene is dashing through Virgo. Meteor shower Eta Aquarid displays its shooting stars that emanate from Aquarius. It is expected to peak substantially on 06 May before morning in eastern sky. Its progenitor is the famed Comet 1P/Halley (orbital period of roughly seventy six years). Comet C/2008T2 (Cardinal) could be followed across western sky in Gemini.

Dubbed Himiko (named after ancient Japanese legendary queen) mysterious mammoth gas cloud mimicking huge primordial blob that could signal the earliest stages of our universe has been spotted recently. It is 12.9 billion light-years away towards constellation Cetus (whale) and could have been concocted near the dawn of time when our universe was eight hundred million years old, as postulated in Big Bang Hypothesis. It is equivalent to fourty billion suns and its span is modestly half the diameter of our galaxy (fifty thousand light-years). This cloud predates similar arcane blotches that were known as Lyman-Alpha Blobs (LABs), which had puzzlingly and elusively survived when the universe was merely two to three billion years old.

Himiko could represent ionized gas halo that surrounds super-massive black hole. It could be cooling gas cloud which could be analogous to queer antique galaxy. It could have also resulted from collision between two young galaxies. Furthermore, it could be outgoing wind of highly active star nursery or of a single giant galaxy. Only further envisaged investigation would reveal its true nature in future.

Light-year expresses the distance that light travels in one year. It is circa ten trillion kilometers. Any embodiment that is 12.9 billion light-years away is seen as it existed 12.9 billion years ago and its light is arriving at our planet just now. The Big Bang Model is widely accepted plausible theory for the origin and evolution of universe.

NASA’s SWIFT spacecraft has detected awe-inspiring most remote Gamma-Ray Burst (GRB) labeled GRB-090423 lying west of Leo-star Eta Leonis. It is ostensibly thirteen billion light-years away and is six hundred million old. GRB arises when behemoth star runs out of nuclear fuel and its core collapses into eerie black hole or neutron star. GRBs release short-lived intense flashes of energetic gamma radiation and are extremely luminous. The full moon also popularly called flower full moon falls on 09 May. Venerated Buddha Jayanti is celebrated respectfully on this day. New moon is on 24 May. The accompanying star chart approximately portrays night sky over Kathmandu at around twenty hours local time during mid-May 2009.

Source:The Rising Nepal National English Daily of Nepal

No comments:

Post a Comment