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Planispheres: Guide To The Night Sky

889 words - 4 pages

For my observational paper I wanted to do something different, but yet simple,something that would state that you don't need a lot of money, or special equipment toindulge into astronomy and actually enjoy it. I looked into maybe buying a smalltelescope, but I thought I would get creative. So began my research into what ancientastronomers used for stargazing, and what sailors would use as navigational tools. Myresearch led me to, what is now, a modern planisphere. I also searched on the Internet forsome sites that would show how to build and use a planisphere, but just in case Iwouldn't be able to build my own, I bought an inexpensive one at the local museum. Inaddition to the planisphere, I also bought a star map, which in case I couldn't find acertain star or constellation, I could use the map to offer me an extra guide. Myobservations took me on drives to Griffith Park, near the Observatory, for my nightlystargazing. On one occasion I did borrow a telescope to try and catch a glimpse of Saturn,and for the astronomical event of the year, which is the Leonid meteor shower early onTuesday morning, November 19.On that Tuesday morning, I saw what was certainly the most fabulous meteorshower any of us will ever see in our entire lifetimes rains down on earth. That Tuesdaymorning I planned my observing location, along with my Astronomy Lab class. Onenight I tried searching for Saturn, which is a bright planet and normally it would stand outconspicuously, but bright stars surrounded it and you have to know which one it is. It's inthe northern part of Orion roughly in the middle of a large circle of stars, and in my case Icould not put my finger on it. Another was Jupiter it was up by midnight, and it was thevery bright star in the east that it was more brilliant than any other in the sky. By 1 a.m. itwas high enough to see it well through a telescope, which I did, and with a telescopeyou'll see its four large moons that change positions nightly. Jupiter is on the boundarybetween Leo and Cancer, and there are no bright stars nearby to confuse with it. Amongmany other stars that I couldn't pin point exactly were, October 8th around 8pm I thoughtto have seen the constellation Hercules, October 25th around 9pm I observed the Pegasusconstellation. Also following is a brief explanation of the planisphere and some of itsorigins.A planisphere is a simple handheld device that shows which stars are in the sky atany time. When you rotate a movable disk, you can see at a glance what's above thehorizon and what's...

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