Astronomy Picture of the Day
Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.
2016 June 9
Pluto at Night
Image Credit: NASA, Johns Hopkins Univ./APL, Southwest Research InstituteExplanation: The night side of Pluto spans this shadowy scene. The spacebased view with the Sun behind the distant world was captured by New Horizons last July. The spacecraft was at a range of over 21,000 kilometers, about 19 minutes after its closest approach. A denizen of the Kuiper Belt in dramatic silhouette, the image also reveals Pluto’s tenuous, surprisingly complex layers of hazy atmosphere. The crescent twilight landscape near the top of the frame includes southern areas of nitrogen ice plains informally known as Sputnik Planum and rugged mountains of water-ice in the Norgay Montes.
See the Dragon’s Eyes on June evenings
Tonight, find the Dragon’s Eyes. For years, I’ve glanced up in the north at this time of year and spied the two stars marked on today’s chart, Rastaban and Eltanin in the constellation Draco. They’re noticeable because they’re relatively bright and near each other. There’s always that split-second when I ask myself with some excitement what two stars are those? It’s then that my eyes drift to blue-white Vega nearby . . . and I know, by Vega’s nearness, that they are the stars Rastaban and Eltanin.
These two stars represent the fiery Eyes of the constellation Draco the Dragon.
Because the stars stay fixed relative to each other, Vega is always near these stars. Vega, by the way, lodges at the apex of the Summer Triangle, a famous pattern consisting of three bright stars in three separate constellations, also prominent at this time of year.
From tropical and subtropical latitudes in the Southern Hemisphere, the stars Rastaban and Eltanin shine quite low in the northern sky (below Vega). In either hemisphere, at all time zones, the Dragon’s eyes climb highest up in the sky around midnight (1 a.m. daylight-saving time) in mid-June, 11 p.m. (midnight daylight-saving time) in early July, and 9 p.m. (10 p.m. daylight-saving time) in early August. But from temperate latitudes in the Southern Hemisphere (southern Australia and New Zealand), the Dragon’s eyes never climb above your horizon but you can catch the star Vega way low in your northern sky.
People at mid-northern latitudes get to view the Dragon’s eyes all night long!
Speaking of Rastaban and Eltanin, one of you asked:
What are constellations?
The answer is that they’re just patterns of stars on the sky’s dome. The Greeks and Romans, for example, named them for their gods and goddesses, and also for many sorts of animals. In the 20th century, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) formalized the names and boundaries of the constellations. Now every star in the sky belongs to one or another constellation.
The stars within constellations aren’t connected, except in the mind’s eye of stargazers. The stars in general lie at vastly different distances from Earth. It’s by finding juxtaposed patterns on the sky’s dome that you’ll come to know the constellations – much as I identify Rastaban and Eltanin at this time of year by looking for the star Vega.
Of course, there’s plenty to see in every part of the sky, every night. If you’re wondering abut the bright star near the moon on the night of June 9, 2016, it’s Regulus in the constellation Leo. In the next couple of evenings, the moon will be near very bright Jupiter.
Bottom line: Look in the northeast on these June evenings – near the star Vega. You’ll see Rastaban and Eltanin, two stars that are bright and close together.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. “Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers,” she says
Article Published on EarthSky
The Wisdom of Buddha
Whatever words we utter should be chosen with care for people will hear them and be influenced by them for good or ill.
Your Daily Influences
June 9, 2016
Ace of Pentacles
Prosperity, pleasure and beauty can be realized.
Berkano is the Rune of birth and rebirth. This may symbolize a time when you are capable of great personal growth. Love may be in the air as well.
Scorpio the Scorpion
This aspect of your life will be strongly influenced by a person who is determined, forceful, emotional, intuitive, powerful, passionate, exciting and magnetic. This person is probably an acquaintance you made at work.
Your Daily Influences represent events and challenges the current day will present for you. They may represent opportunities you should be ready to seize. Or they may forewarn you of problems you may be able to avoid or lessen. Generally it is best to use them as tips to help you manage your day and nothing more.
Your Charm for Today
You will find you have within you the ability to resolve all conflicts and disagreements with regard to this aspect. You will find an eloquence you did not realize before.
The staff of Mercury was given to him by Apollo in exchange for the lyre. The rod was endowed with the remarkable power of deciding all quarrels and bestowing wonderful eloquence upon its possessor. Mercury proved this when he saw two serpents fighting. Placing the rod between them and using his eloquence he reconciled the serpents, who then embraced each other, and becoming attached to the rod formed the caduceus. The pine cone is credited with health giving power, and the wings symbolize speed and the flight of thoughts between friends. This ancient talisman was supposed to be a charm of prosperity, rendering its possessor healthy, wealthy and wise.
Your Daily Domino
June 9, 2016
Your world is about to become more harmonious. All the pieces will begin to fit. However, for this to occur you must be open to change and embrace new ideas.
Your Daily Tile
June 9, 2016
The Jade tile indicates hard work resulting in spectacular results. Jade is thought to be an “immortal stone” to many. Therefore is also denotes longevity of relationships, life and principled values.
Your Ancient Symbol Card for Today
The Unicorn indicates uniqueness and reminds us of the ability for magic we possess. Although gentle, the unicorn nonetheless is able to defend itself, not only through horn-to-horn face-off but also through swift flight or even by disappearing into a mystical mist. The unicorn also represents purity, strength, and for a mentor or a nurturing family member. When the Unicorn appears, extraordinary events are possible in the near future.
As a daily card The Unicorn indicates a short period in which amazing happenings are possible. The Unicorn also suggests that it is crucial to maintain a high ethical standard during this span, and to remember kindness begets kindness.
Daily Witches Rune
Meaning: This rune symbolizes your friends and family and their influence upon you. Its meaning is usually derived from the other stones closest to it. This rune is also associated with travel. A journey abroad is indicated especially if the Sun rune is nearby, but a journey for someone close to you if the Moon stone is closest. If it is near to the Rings it foretells a holiday or long distance relationship.