The Big Dipper

Tiny points of light, with a magic all their own.
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Christopher K.
Posts: 4617
Joined: October 12th, 2009, 3:28 pm
Location: Baton Rouge, LA

The Big Dipper

Post by Christopher K. » May 3rd, 2015, 9:00 pm

Probably the most famous asterism in the night sky is "upside down" tonight. If you go out, say, anytime from 9:15pm to 10:45pm you can see it stretching from the north to the northeast. Remember, the handle "arcs to Arcturus".

Christopher K.
Posts: 4617
Joined: October 12th, 2009, 3:28 pm
Location: Baton Rouge, LA

Re: The Big Dipper

Post by Christopher K. » August 6th, 2015, 7:52 pm

I kicked off a nice night of viewing this past Monday with this old favorite. The seeing was actually nice, but the dipper was immersed in the northern light dome, almost as though someone stuck it in a hazy grey sink of dishwater. I saw the three handle stars and (probably) Dubhe.

Christopher K.
Posts: 4617
Joined: October 12th, 2009, 3:28 pm
Location: Baton Rouge, LA

Re: The Big Dipper

Post by Christopher K. » September 17th, 2015, 9:39 pm

Tuesday night at ~8:45pm I attempted to spot Arcturus and the Big Dipper. There were some clouds to the southwest but they spared Arcturus and I saw it with no problem. The Big Dipper was another story; it was so low I only saw Alkaid and Mizar. Any who want to look too need to try tonight or tomorrow night to see roughly the same orientation.

Christopher K.
Posts: 4617
Joined: October 12th, 2009, 3:28 pm
Location: Baton Rouge, LA

Re: The Big Dipper

Post by Christopher K. » November 21st, 2016, 3:12 pm

Early tonight is not the time to look for the Big Dipper because you won't find it. Anyone wanting to see it standing on its handle in the northeast will have to wait until at least 3am CST tomorrow morning.

Christopher K.
Posts: 4617
Joined: October 12th, 2009, 3:28 pm
Location: Baton Rouge, LA

Re: The Big Dipper

Post by Christopher K. » May 7th, 2017, 10:45 pm

I trained a Bushnell 10x at Alkaid, Alioth and Dubhe a little over a half-hour ago. When I looked at Alioth I saw nearby 78 Ursae Majoris (F-class, mag 4.9). This may be the first I've noticed of Dubhe's orange tint.

Christopher K.
Posts: 4617
Joined: October 12th, 2009, 3:28 pm
Location: Baton Rouge, LA

Re: The Big Dipper

Post by Christopher K. » May 15th, 2017, 4:14 pm

Tonight at 10pm CDT go outside, face north and look about two-thirds of the way up. The Big Dipper is emptying its contents onto the landscape below! Of course that means Cassiopeia (which is always on the opposite side of the North Star) is buried below the horizon.

In fact this an EXCELLENT night for skygazing. Here's the NOAA forecast for 10pm to 12am...
precipitation potential, 1%
sky cover, 4%
relative humidity, 77%
temperature, 24˚C
surface wind, S 8 km/h

Danko's Clear Dark Sky states that during this time the transparency rating will be "above average" (4 out of 5) and the seeing rating will be "average" (3 out of 5). View with caution, though; there is an Air Quality Alert until midnight.

Christopher K.
Posts: 4617
Joined: October 12th, 2009, 3:28 pm
Location: Baton Rouge, LA

Re: The Big Dipper

Post by Christopher K. » May 4th, 2019, 4:13 pm

The Mizar-Alcor group will be a planned telescopic target from 9:45pm to 10:15pm during HRPO's next viewing session on Saturday 11 May. Although it is mid-May and Daylight Time is still in effect, twilight will have ended.

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