Focusing on classic Greek-Roman names with occasional indigenous references. The classic names are used in some GoTo telescope software for sky alignment (e.g. Sky-Watcher SynScan and Celestron).
Spectral classes O B A F G K M — Annie Jump Cannon
Star Tales (2018) Ian Ridpath
Star Names (1963) Richard Hinckley Allen
Sky Safari 7 Pro (star lore by Jim Kaler)
A Concise Dictionary of Astronomy (1991) Jacqueline MItton
Stars You Should Know—Winter About 12 bright stars
- all brighter than 2nd magnitude (easy to find, even in the city)
- all used for celestial navigation (58 in all)
Starting with Orion
- not the biggest constellation, but the most prominent
- first constellation Dave learned from his father at age 8 back in 1962
- find other stars and constellations starting from Orion
- all are Sky-Watcher alignment stars and most are Celestron
- Betelgeuse alpha Ori “Shoulder”
- Mag. 0.5 variable star, M2 orange-red supergiant, 20 solar masses 10th brightest star (in night sky), 500 light years
- 2nd or 3rd largest star in angular diameter (50 mas)—Mira and R Dor larger Famously dimmed in 2019/2020 due to occluding gas cloud ejected from star.
- Rigel beta Ori “Foot’
- Mag. 0.2 variable double star, B2 white supergiant, 18–24 solar masses
- 7th brightest star, 900 light years
- Compare with Rigil Kentauris, the “Foot of the Centaur” aka alpha Centauri
- Bellatrix gamma Ori “Female Warrior”
- Mag. 1.6, B2 blue-white giant, 8 solar masses
- Alnilam epsilon Ori “String of Pearls”
- Mag. 1.7 variable double star, B0 blue-white supergiant, 40–44 solar masses
- Middle star of the Belt of Orion: Alnitak-Alnilam-Mintaka
- “Three Marys” “Three Chiefs Fishing”
- 1 degree south of the celestial equator
- From anywhere on Earth, these stars rise due east and set due west
- (Saiph) kappa Ori Mag. 2.1 CANIS MAJOR (CMa)
- Sirius alpha CMa “Scorching”
- Mag. –1.4 double star, A0 white main sequence, 2 solar masses
- Follow Belt of Orion down and to the left to find Sirius
- Brightest star—8.7 light years
- Closest star visible to the naked eye from mid-northern latitudes
- “Dog Star”—heliacal rising in August associated with hot “Dog Days of Summer”
- Bessel noted unusual oscillation in position
- Alvan Clark discovers white dwarf Sirius B while testing new refractor Sirius—Brightest Diamond in the Sky (2007) Jay B. Holberg
- Adhara epsilon CMa “The Virgins”
- Mag. 1.5 double star, B2 blue-white giant, 13 solar masses
- Adhara is south of Sirius.
- More luminous than Sirius but 47x more distant (410 light years)
- Most luminous star in UV, used to be brighter than Sirius
- Aldebaran alpha Tau “The Follower” (follows the Pleiades)
- Mag. 0.9 variable multiple star, K5 orange giant, 1.2 solar masses
- Follow Belt of Orion up to the right to find Aldebaran
- Among the Hyades star cluster but not associated 1.1 solar masses
- One of the comparison stars for brightness estimates of Betelgeuse
- Elnath beta Tau “The Butting One”
- Mag. 1.7 double star, B7 blue-white giant, 5 solar masses
- Follow Rigel through Bellatrix and up to find Elnath.
- Once associated with Auriga (many star charts still imply this)
CANIS MINOR (CMi)
- Procyon alpha CMi “Before the Dog”
- Mag. 0.4 variable double star, F5 blue-white main sequence, 1. 5 solar masses
- Follow Bellatrix through Betelgeuse to the left to find Procyon.
- 8th brightest star, 11.5 light years GEMINI (Gem)
- Pollux beta Gem “One of the Twins”
- Mag. 1.2 variable star, K0 yellow-white giant, 1.9 solar masses
- Follow Rigel through Betelgeuse to the upper left to find The Twins.
- (Castor) alpha Gem
- Pollux closest to Procyon, Castor closest to Capella
- Capella alpha Aur “She Goat”
- Mag. 0.1 variable multiple star, G6 yellow-orange subgiant, 2.6 solar masses
- Follow Rigel through Bellatrix and Elnath to find Auriga.
- 6th brightest star
- (Elnath) beta Tau—also used to be gamma Auriga “Foot of the Charioteer”
Winter Triangle Betelgeuse–Procyon–Sirius–Betelgeuse
Winter Hexagon Capella–Pollux–Procyon–Sirius–Rigel–Aldebaran–Capella
Winter “G” Capella–Pollux–Procyon–Sirius–Rigel–Aldebaran–Betelguese
- Star Tales (2018) Ian Ridpath
- Star Names (1963) Richard Hinckley Allen
- Sky Safari 7 Pro (star lore by Jim Kaler)
- A Concise Dictionary of Astronomy (1991) Jacqueline MItton
2 thoughts on “Episode 294 – Stars You Should Know Show Notes”
Please do more episodes like this!! Ep 294
I am brand new to actually observing, rather than just a keen awe-struckness for what I see.
My grandfather showed me the Southern Cross, Orion and Halley’s Comet as it passed as a young boy. I was hooked at the majesty and wonder of space but never have used equipment until now.
I am keen to learn (more), live in Australia. But no good podcasts for Southern Hemisphere (like yours) that I have found.
Thanks for this.
Yes, I would like to hear more of these.