The Midnight Following of a Red Giant

Last night I decided to take myself outside and look for stars using the app known as stellarium. Then I went with my Celetron binoculars and began looking at the only star that I could see inside the clouded sky

What was interesting is using stellarium I was able to determine that the only star I was looking at was called Arcturus.

As it turns out Arcturus is a red giant star and is the fourth brightest object in the night sky. Also Arcturus is 35 million kilometres in diameter.

In order to understand just how large Arcturus is we decided this morning to look up the circumference of the Earth.

The Earth’s circumference is 40150 kilometres. This means you would have to circumnavigate around the earth approximately 35 times in order to cross the diameter of Arcturus

What you may or may not know is in the past 12 months I have become an enthusiast of astronomy.

The best parts about being an Enthusiast astronomer is you don’t really know what it is you’re always looking at so in order to determine what you are looking at you need to use an app similar to stellarium which during the evening time when there is no sun stellarium you can use with a red light so that your eyes are not bothered by the brightness of your cell phone or tablets and what is even better than that is it gives you a grid and a horizon line and you can move your device around in 360 degrees which will give you a full view of all the stars and constellations to which you can observe in the night sky.

The brilliant part about stellarium is you slowly beginning to see through your binoculars and or your naked eye the stars that make up certain constellations.

Last night the clouds were constantly moving back and forth and making it difficult to see specific constellations. Therefore you had to be patient with the amount of stars you could see and then compare what you were seeing to the stellarium app as it showed you which stars you should be able to see.

One of the more fascinating things that you can see during the night sky is satellites such as Elon musk’s starlink orbiting through the sky. These starlink satellites make it easy to determine on the stellarium app which constellation and or star grouping that you are looking at.

For this astronomy enthusiast I have used several telescopes in the past 12 months and have found that using 7×50 Celetron binoculars by Celestron is an easy way to begin learning how to observe the night sky.

Over the course of roughly one and a half hours I was able to see parts of constellations Bootes, Serpentis, Ursa Major, Scorpio and Draco.

Eventually the most difficult part of using binoculars is that you are using your arms to keep the binoculars steady and positioned in a way that you can continue to view the night sky.

Therefore after viewing for approximately 45 minutes I was unable to keep the binoculars steady and needed to call it an evening.

The most spectacular part of last night’s observations was being patient and understanding that the cloud cover will shift and in doing so you can locate multiple constellations and or red dwarf stars and or red giants.

Stellarium app

~ James Curtis