Shallow Sky Object of the Month: Aldebaran – the eye of the bull

By Bill Pellerin, Houston Astronomical Society

When you see the constellation Taurus and the nearby and popular constellation of Orion you know it’s winter. Well winter officially began at 10:44 a.m. (UT) on December 21. Those of us who live in the southern United States are now having days of cool temperatures and days of warm temperatures while the weather figures out what season it wants to be. Northerners are, according to news reports, having quite cold weather and some snow.

If it’s too cold for you to get outside and set up your telescope for an extended observing session there are still plenty of objects to admire with a quick visit to the back yard. The object this month is a very bright star, obvious to the unaided eye in the constellation Taurus. Aldebaran, a K star, stands out for both its brightness and its color, a bright orange / red that’s not duplicated by any nearby stars.  To see a redder star, look to Betelgeuse, which is a  M class star.

So, what are we looking at here? Aldebaran is slightly variable, from .75 magnitude to .95 magnitude, but this change in magnitude is not easily visible to anyone making visual observations. A photometric observer could detect this change, but a quick check of the AAVSO (American Association of Variable Star Observers) finds no data for this star submitted.

2017 Solar Eclipse - "I Saw the Eclipse" Certificate

A certificate has been added to the AL Website to give to people who see the 2017 Eclipse at your Eclipse Viewing Party.

Are you planning an Eclipse Viewing Party?  The AL has a certificate that you can download, print and distribute to attendees.  It is available under the Observe option at the top of every web page.  Hover over "Observe" and a list will appear.  Select (click) Downloadable Certificates and it will be the first certificate included.