Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Star Walk

I had a three mile walk scheduled for tonight so I took it around our subdivision.  It was a very clear sky tonight and this was really nice after days of rain, fog, and lighting.  What stood out more than anything was the amount of stars I could see in the sky.   I have always loved astronomy.  There was always an interest there but I wished I knew more about what I was looking at – well they just happen to have an app for that – Star Walk - and I just recently purchased it.

Got back to house, went inside, grabbed & powered up my iPad, launched the Star Walk app, saw and identified a bunch of stars:

Capella –  42.8 light-years away - Brightest star in the constellation Auriga, 11th brightest star in the night sky and the 3rd brightest in the northern celestial hemisphere.  Although it appears to be a single star to the naked eye, it is actually a four star system, two of which have a radius about 10 times our Sun.

And to the right and down a bit was:

Betelgeuse – 640 light-years away!!! – size: 950 times our Sun - the 9th brightest star in the night sky, part of the Orion constellation.  Betelgeuse is only a few million years old, but has evolved rapidly because of its high mass.  Due to its age, Betelgeuse may go supernova within the next millennium (because it is hundreds of light years away, it possibly may have done so already! )

And to the right and down a bit from there was:

Sirius – 8.6 light-years away – is the brightest star in the night sky.  The name “Sirius” is derived from the Ancient Greek Seirios (“scorcher”), possibly because the star’s appearance was associated with summer.

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What a great app - Star Walk.  If you have an iPad or iPhone and even a slight interest in the stars in the sky, this app is well worth $4.99!


  1. Very cool, Scott! I had no idea they had an app for that, but I guess they have an app for everything! My husband is an amateur astronomer, so I have spent many, many nights out in the dark peering at very distant places through an eyepiece! You're very lucky that you live somewhere with a dark sky. Too much light pollution these days.
    There were supposed to be some great Northern Lights last night, too, but it was cloudy here....

    1. I know what you mean - too much light pollution. We have the same problem here in the metro Atlanta area. I become painfully aware by setting the Visual Magnitude setting in the Star Walk app (shows me what the sky would look like with no light pollution) - there is so much I am not seeing! I need to go somewhere this summer far away from light pollution and do this...

  2. I have always been fascinated by astronomy. I have visited Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff several times to stare through their public telescopes. Some of the most beautiful pictures I have ever seen have been of stars and gas clouds in deep space.

    Unfortunately there is just too much light to see much of anything from my suburban Phoenix home.

    1. Deep space is so incredible to ponder, especially after seeing some of those amazing pictures. We are so so so tiny.

    2. We used to live in a very small town in Northern Alberta many years ago when we first started teaching ... a village called Sangudo north of Edmonton. The skies were so incredible because there was virtually no light pollution. The only difficulty was that in the summer we were so far north that there actually light in the sky until the morning. Winter provided the best show and the northern lights were frequent. You brought back a few memories here! I think that I will blog today about one walk that we did there when our car broke down on the way home to our little house in the country ... it was a walk I will never forget!