Right ascension is the angular distance of a particular point measured eastward along the celestial equator from the Sun at the March equinox to the point above the earth in question. When paired with declination, these astronomical coordinates specify the direction of a point on the celestial sphere in the equatorial coordinate system. An old term, right ascension refers to the ascension, or the point on the celestial equator that rises with any celestial object as seen from Earth's equator, where the celestial equator intersects the horizon at a right angle, it contrasts with oblique ascension, the point on the celestial equator that rises with any celestial object as seen from most latitudes on Earth, where the celestial equator intersects the horizon at an oblique angle. Right ascension is the celestial equivalent of terrestrial longitude. Both right ascension and longitude measure an angle from a primary direction on an equator. Right ascension is measured from the Sun at the March equinox i.e. the First Point of Aries, the place on the celestial sphere where the Sun crosses the celestial equator from south to north at the March equinox and is located in the constellation Pisces.
Right ascension is measured continuously in a full circle from that alignment of Earth and Sun in space, that equinox, the measurement increasing towards the east. As seen from Earth, objects noted to have 12h RA are longest visible at the March equinox. On those dates at midnight, such objects will reach their highest point. How high depends on their declination. Any units of angular measure could have been chosen for right ascension, but it is customarily measured in hours and seconds, with 24h being equivalent to a full circle. Astronomers have chosen this unit to measure right ascension because they measure a star's location by timing its passage through the highest point in the sky as the Earth rotates; the line which passes through the highest point in the sky, called the meridian, is the projection of a longitude line onto the celestial sphere. Since a complete circle contains 24h of right ascension or 360°, 1/24 of a circle is measured as 1h of right ascension, or 15°. A full circle, measured in right-ascension units, contains 24 × 60 × 60 = 86400s, or 24 × 60 = 1440m, or 24h.
Because right ascensions are measured in hours, they can be used to time the positions of objects in the sky. For example, if a star with RA = 1h 30m 00s is at its meridian a star with RA = 20h 00m 00s will be on the/at its meridian 18.5 sidereal hours later. Sidereal hour angle, used in celestial navigation, is similar to right ascension, but increases westward rather than eastward. Measured in degrees, it is the complement of right ascension with respect to 24h, it is important not to confuse sidereal hour angle with the astronomical concept of hour angle, which measures angular distance of an object westward from the local meridian. The Earth's axis rotates westward about the poles of the ecliptic, completing one cycle in about 26,000 years; this movement, known as precession, causes the coordinates of stationary celestial objects to change continuously, if rather slowly. Therefore, equatorial coordinates are inherently relative to the year of their observation, astronomers specify them with reference to a particular year, known as an epoch.
Coordinates from different epochs must be mathematically rotated to match each other, or to match a standard epoch. Right ascension for "fixed stars" near the ecliptic and equator increases by about 3.05 seconds per year on average, or 5.1 minutes per century, but for fixed stars further from the ecliptic the rate of change can be anything from negative infinity to positive infinity. The right ascension of Polaris is increasing quickly; the North Ecliptic Pole in Draco and the South Ecliptic Pole in Dorado are always at right ascension 18h and 6h respectively. The used standard epoch is J2000.0, January 1, 2000 at 12:00 TT. The prefix "J" indicates. Prior to J2000.0, astronomers used the successive Besselian epochs B1875.0, B1900.0, B1950.0. The concept of right ascension has been known at least as far back as Hipparchus who measured stars in equatorial coordinates in the 2nd century BC, but Hipparchus and his successors made their star catalogs in ecliptic coordinates, the use of RA was limited to special cases.
With the invention of the telescope, it became possible for astronomers to observe celestial objects in greater detail, provided that the telescope could be kept pointed at the object for a period of time. The easiest way to do, to use an equatorial mount, which allows the telescope to be aligned with one of its two pivots parallel to the Earth's axis. A motorized clock drive is used with an equatorial mount to cancel out the Earth's rotation; as the equatorial mount became adopted for observation, the equatorial coordinate system, which includes right ascension, was adopted at the same time for simplicity. Equatorial mounts could be pointed at objects with known right ascension and declination by the use of setting circles; the first star catalog to use right ascen
Hipparcos was a scientific satellite of the European Space Agency, launched in 1989 and operated until 1993. It was the first space experiment devoted to precision astrometry, the accurate measurement of the positions of celestial objects on the sky; this permitted the accurate determination of proper motions and parallaxes of stars, allowing a determination of their distance and tangential velocity. When combined with radial velocity measurements from spectroscopy, this pinpointed all six quantities needed to determine the motion of stars; the resulting Hipparcos Catalogue, a high-precision catalogue of more than 118,200 stars, was published in 1997. The lower-precision Tycho Catalogue of more than a million stars was published at the same time, while the enhanced Tycho-2 Catalogue of 2.5 million stars was published in 2000. Hipparcos' follow-up mission, was launched in 2013; the word "Hipparcos" is an acronym for HIgh Precision PARallax COllecting Satellite and a reference to the ancient Greek astronomer Hipparchus of Nicaea, noted for applications of trigonometry to astronomy and his discovery of the precession of the equinoxes.
By the second half of the 20th century, the accurate measurement of star positions from the ground was running into insurmountable barriers to improvements in accuracy for large-angle measurements and systematic terms. Problems were dominated by the effects of the Earth's atmosphere, but were compounded by complex optical terms and gravitational instrument flexures, the absence of all-sky visibility. A formal proposal to make these exacting observations from space was first put forward in 1967. Although proposed to the French space agency CNES, it was considered too complex and expensive for a single national programme, its acceptance within the European Space Agency's scientific programme, in 1980, was the result of a lengthy process of study and lobbying. The underlying scientific motivation was to determine the physical properties of the stars through the measurement of their distances and space motions, thus to place theoretical studies of stellar structure and evolution, studies of galactic structure and kinematics, on a more secure empirical basis.
Observationally, the objective was to provide the positions and annual proper motions for some 100,000 stars with an unprecedented accuracy of 0.002 arcseconds, a target in practice surpassed by a factor of two. The name of the space telescope, "Hipparcos" was an acronym for High Precision Parallax Collecting Satellite, it reflected the name of the ancient Greek astronomer Hipparchus, considered the founder of trigonometry and the discoverer of the precession of the equinoxes; the spacecraft carried a single all-reflective, eccentric Schmidt telescope, with an aperture of 29 cm. A special beam-combining mirror superimposed two fields of view, 58 degrees apart, into the common focal plane; this complex mirror consisted of two mirrors tilted in opposite directions, each occupying half of the rectangular entrance pupil, providing an unvignetted field of view of about 1°×1°. The telescope used a system of grids, at the focal surface, composed of 2688 alternate opaque and transparent bands, with a period of 1.208 arc-sec.
Behind this grid system, an image dissector tube with a sensitive field of view of about 38-arc-sec diameter converted the modulated light into a sequence of photon counts from which the phase of the entire pulse train from a star could be derived. The apparent angle between two stars in the combined fields of view, modulo the grid period, was obtained from the phase difference of the two star pulse trains. Targeting the observation of some 100,000 stars, with an astrometric accuracy of about 0.002 arc-sec, the final Hipparcos Catalogue comprised nearly 120,000 stars with a median accuracy of better than 0.001 arc-sec. An additional photomultiplier system viewed a beam splitter in the optical path and was used as a star mapper, its purpose was to monitor and determine the satellite attitude, in the process, to gather photometric and astrometric data of all stars down to about 11th magnitude. These measurements were made in two broad bands corresponding to B and V in the UBV photometric system.
The positions of these latter stars were to be determined to a precision of 0.03 arc-sec, a factor of 25 less than the main mission stars. Targeting the observation of around 400,000 stars, the resulting Tycho Catalogue comprised just over 1 million stars, with a subsequent analysis extending this to the Tycho-2 Catalogue of about 2.5 million stars. The attitude of the spacecraft about its center of gravity was controlled to scan the celestial sphere in a regular precessional motion maintaining a constant inclination between the spin axis and the direction to the Sun; the spacecraft spun around its Z-axis at the rate of 11.25 revolutions/day at an angle of 43° to the Sun. The Z-axis rotated about the sun-satellite line at 6.4 revolutions/year. The spacecraft consisted of two platforms and six vertical panels, all made of aluminum honeycomb; the solar array consisted of three deployable sections. Two S-band antennas were located on the top and bottom of the spacecraft, providing an omni-directional downlink data rate of 24 kbit/s.
An attitude and orbit-control subsystem ensured correct dynamic attitude control and determination during the operational lifetim
Cosmic distance ladder
The cosmic distance ladder is the succession of methods by which astronomers determine the distances to celestial objects. A real direct distance measurement of an astronomical object is possible only for those objects that are "close enough" to Earth; the techniques for determining distances to more distant objects are all based on various measured correlations between methods that work at close distances and methods that work at larger distances. Several methods rely on a standard candle, an astronomical object that has a known luminosity; the ladder analogy arises because no single technique can measure distances at all ranges encountered in astronomy. Instead, one method can be used to measure nearby distances, a second can be used to measure nearby to intermediate distances, so on; each rung of the ladder provides information that can be used to determine the distances at the next higher rung. At the base of the ladder are fundamental distance measurements, in which distances are determined directly, with no physical assumptions about the nature of the object in question.
The precise measurement of stellar positions is part of the discipline of astrometry. Direct distance measurements are based upon the astronomical unit, the distance between the Earth and the Sun. Kepler's laws provide precise ratios of the sizes of the orbits of objects orbiting the Sun, but provides no measurement of the overall scale of the orbit system. Radar is used to measure the distance of a second body. From that measurement and the ratio of the two orbit sizes, the size of Earth's orbit is calculated; the Earth's orbit is known with an absolute precision of a few meters and a relative precision of a few 1×10−11. Observations of transits of Venus were crucial in determining the AU. Presently the orbit of Earth is determined with high precision using radar measurements of distances to Venus and other nearby planets and asteroids, by tracking interplanetary spacecraft in their orbits around the Sun through the Solar System; the most important fundamental distance measurements come from trigonometric parallax.
As the Earth orbits the Sun, the position of nearby stars will appear to shift against the more distant background. These shifts are angles in an isosceles triangle, with 2 AU making the base leg of the triangle and the distance to the star being the long equal length legs; the amount of shift is quite small, measuring 1 arcsecond for an object at 1 parsec's distance of the nearest stars, thereafter decreasing in angular amount as the distance increases. Astronomers express distances in units of parsecs; because parallax becomes smaller for a greater stellar distance, useful distances can be measured only for stars which are near enough to have a parallax larger than a few times the precision of the measurement. Parallax measurements have an accuracy measured in milliarcseconds. In the 1990s, for example, the Hipparcos mission obtained parallaxes for over a hundred thousand stars with a precision of about a milliarcsecond, providing useful distances for stars out to a few hundred parsecs; the Hubble telescope WFC3 now has the potential to provide a precision of 20 to 40 microarcseconds, enabling reliable distance measurements up to 5,000 parsecs for small numbers of stars.
In 2018, Data Release 2 from the Gaia space mission provides accurate distances to most stars brighter than 15th magnitude. Stars have a velocity relative to the Sun that causes radial velocity; the former is determined by plotting the changing position of the stars over many years, while the latter comes from measuring the Doppler shift of the star's spectrum caused by motion along the line of sight. For a group of stars with the same spectral class and a similar magnitude range, a mean parallax can be derived from statistical analysis of the proper motions relative to their radial velocities; this statistical parallax method is useful for measuring the distances of bright stars beyond 50 parsecs and giant variable stars, including Cepheids and the RR Lyrae variables. The motion of the Sun through space provides a longer baseline that will increase the accuracy of parallax measurements, known as secular parallax. For stars in the Milky Way disk, this corresponds to a mean baseline of 4 AU per year, while for halo stars the baseline is 40 AU per year.
After several decades, the baseline can be orders of magnitude greater than the Earth–Sun baseline used for traditional parallax. However, secular parallax introduces a higher level of uncertainty because the relative velocity of observed stars is an additional unknown; when applied to samples of multiple stars, the uncertainty can be reduced. Moving cluster parallax is a technique where the motions of individual stars in a nearby star cluster can be used to find the distance to the cluster. Only open clusters are near enough for this technique to be useful. In particular the distance obtained for the Hyades has been an important step in the distance ladder. Other individual objects can have fundamental distance estimates made for them under special circumstances. If the expansion of a gas cloud, like a supernova remnant or planetary nebula, can be observed over time an expansion parallax distance to that cloud can be estimated; those measurements however suf
Epsilon Cancri is a white-hued binary star system in the zodiac constellation of Cancer. It is the brightest member of the Beehive Cluster with an apparent visual magnitude of +6.29, near the lower limit of visibility with the naked eye. The annual parallax shift of 5.3 mas as seen from Earth yields a distance estimate of 616 light-years from the Sun. The binary pair has the designation WDS J08405+1933; the primary star is designated Epsilon Cancri and the secondary is HD 73711. Epsilon Cancri is itself a spectroscopic binary with components designated Ab. HD 73711 is itself suspected of being a spectroscopic binary. Ε Cancri is the system's Bayer designation. In 2016, the IAU organized a Working Group on Star Names to catalog and standardize proper names for stars; the WGSN decided to attribute proper names to individual stars rather than entire multiple systems. It approved the name Meleph for the component Epsilon Cancri Aa on 5 September 2017 and it is now so included in the List of IAU-approved Star Names.
The system is moving away from the Sun with a radial velocity of +30 km/s. Epsilon Cancri A is a double-lined spectroscopic binary system with an orbital period of 35 days and eccentricity of 0.32. It has a stellar classification of A5 III; the spectrum displays the chemically peculiar characteristics of an Am star. Its spectral type has been listed as kA3hA5mF0, indicating the different spectral types shown by spectral lines of calcium and other metals; the age of the system is estimated to be around 729 million years. HD 73711 is another Am star F-type star with a stellar classification of F0 III
A constellation is a group of stars that forms an imaginary outline or pattern on the celestial sphere representing an animal, mythological person or creature, a god, or an inanimate object. The origins of the earliest constellations go back to prehistory. People used them to relate stories of their beliefs, creation, or mythology. Different cultures and countries adopted their own constellations, some of which lasted into the early 20th century before today's constellations were internationally recognized. Adoption of constellations has changed over time. Many have changed in shape; some became popular. Others were limited to single nations; the 48 traditional Western constellations are Greek. They are given in Aratus' work Phenomena and Ptolemy's Almagest, though their origin predates these works by several centuries. Constellations in the far southern sky were added from the 15th century until the mid-18th century when European explorers began traveling to the Southern Hemisphere. Twelve ancient constellations belong to the zodiac.
The origins of the zodiac remain uncertain. In 1928, the International Astronomical Union formally accepted 88 modern constellations, with contiguous boundaries that together cover the entire celestial sphere. Any given point in a celestial coordinate system lies in one of the modern constellations; some astronomical naming systems include the constellation where a given celestial object is found to convey its approximate location in the sky. The Flamsteed designation of a star, for example, consists of a number and the genitive form of the constellation name. Other star patterns or groups called asterisms are not constellations per se but are used by observers to navigate the night sky. Examples of bright asterisms include the Pleiades and Hyades within the constellation Taurus or Venus' Mirror in the constellation of Orion.. Some asterisms, like the False Cross, are split between two constellations; the word "constellation" comes from the Late Latin term cōnstellātiō, which can be translated as "set of stars".
The Ancient Greek word for constellation is ἄστρον. A more modern astronomical sense of the term "constellation" is as a recognisable pattern of stars whose appearance is associated with mythological characters or creatures, or earthbound animals, or objects, it can specifically denote the recognized 88 named constellations used today. Colloquial usage does not draw a sharp distinction between "constellations" and smaller "asterisms", yet the modern accepted astronomical constellations employ such a distinction. E.g. the Pleiades and the Hyades are both asterisms, each lies within the boundaries of the constellation of Taurus. Another example is the northern asterism known as the Big Dipper or the Plough, composed of the seven brightest stars within the area of the IAU-defined constellation of Ursa Major; the southern False Cross asterism includes portions of the constellations Carina and Vela and the Summer Triangle.. A constellation, viewed from a particular latitude on Earth, that never sets below the horizon is termed circumpolar.
From the North Pole or South Pole, all constellations south or north of the celestial equator are circumpolar. Depending on the definition, equatorial constellations may include those that lie between declinations 45° north and 45° south, or those that pass through the declination range of the ecliptic or zodiac ranging between 23½° north, the celestial equator, 23½° south. Although stars in constellations appear near each other in the sky, they lie at a variety of distances away from the Earth. Since stars have their own independent motions, all constellations will change over time. After tens to hundreds of thousands of years, familiar outlines will become unrecognizable. Astronomers can predict the past or future constellation outlines by measuring individual stars' common proper motions or cpm by accurate astrometry and their radial velocities by astronomical spectroscopy; the earliest evidence for the humankind's identification of constellations comes from Mesopotamian inscribed stones and clay writing tablets that date back to 3000 BC.
It seems that the bulk of the Mesopotamian constellations were created within a short interval from around 1300 to 1000 BC. Mesopotamian constellations appeared in many of the classical Greek constellations; the oldest Babylonian star catalogues of stars and constellations date back to the beginning in the Middle Bronze Age, most notably the Three Stars Each texts and the MUL. APIN, an expanded and revised version based on more accurate observation from around 1000 BC. However, the numerous Sumerian names in these catalogues suggest that they built on older, but otherwise unattested, Sumerian traditions of the Early Bronze Age; the classical Zodiac is a revision of Neo-Babylonian constellations from the 6th century BC. The Greeks adopted the Babylonian constellations in the 4th century BC. Twenty Ptolemaic constellations are from the Ancient Near East. Another ten have the same stars but different names. Biblical scholar, E. W. Bullinger interpreted some of the creatures mentioned in the books of Ezekiel and Revelation as the middle signs of the four quarters of the Zodiac, with the Lion as Leo, the Bull as Taurus, the Man representing Aquarius and the Eagle standing in for Scorpio.
The biblical Book of Job also
Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbor life. According to radiometric dating and other sources of evidence, Earth formed over 4.5 billion years ago. Earth's gravity interacts with other objects in space the Sun and the Moon, Earth's only natural satellite. Earth revolves around the Sun in a period known as an Earth year. During this time, Earth rotates about its axis about 366.26 times. Earth's axis of rotation is tilted with respect to its orbital plane; the gravitational interaction between Earth and the Moon causes ocean tides, stabilizes Earth's orientation on its axis, slows its rotation. Earth is the largest of the four terrestrial planets. Earth's lithosphere is divided into several rigid tectonic plates that migrate across the surface over periods of many millions of years. About 71% of Earth's surface is covered with water by oceans; the remaining 29% is land consisting of continents and islands that together have many lakes and other sources of water that contribute to the hydrosphere.
The majority of Earth's polar regions are covered in ice, including the Antarctic ice sheet and the sea ice of the Arctic ice pack. Earth's interior remains active with a solid iron inner core, a liquid outer core that generates the Earth's magnetic field, a convecting mantle that drives plate tectonics. Within the first billion years of Earth's history, life appeared in the oceans and began to affect the Earth's atmosphere and surface, leading to the proliferation of aerobic and anaerobic organisms; some geological evidence indicates. Since the combination of Earth's distance from the Sun, physical properties, geological history have allowed life to evolve and thrive. In the history of the Earth, biodiversity has gone through long periods of expansion punctuated by mass extinction events. Over 99% of all species that lived on Earth are extinct. Estimates of the number of species on Earth today vary widely. Over 7.6 billion humans live on Earth and depend on its biosphere and natural resources for their survival.
Humans have developed diverse cultures. The modern English word Earth developed from a wide variety of Middle English forms, which derived from an Old English noun most spelled eorðe, it has cognates in every Germanic language, their proto-Germanic root has been reconstructed as *erþō. In its earliest appearances, eorðe was being used to translate the many senses of Latin terra and Greek γῆ: the ground, its soil, dry land, the human world, the surface of the world, the globe itself; as with Terra and Gaia, Earth was a personified goddess in Germanic paganism: the Angles were listed by Tacitus as among the devotees of Nerthus, Norse mythology included Jörð, a giantess given as the mother of Thor. Earth was written in lowercase, from early Middle English, its definite sense as "the globe" was expressed as the earth. By Early Modern English, many nouns were capitalized, the earth became the Earth when referenced along with other heavenly bodies. More the name is sometimes given as Earth, by analogy with the names of the other planets.
House styles now vary: Oxford spelling recognizes the lowercase form as the most common, with the capitalized form an acceptable variant. Another convention capitalizes "Earth" when appearing as a name but writes it in lowercase when preceded by the, it always appears in lowercase in colloquial expressions such as "what on earth are you doing?" The oldest material found in the Solar System is dated to 4.5672±0.0006 billion years ago. By 4.54±0.04 Bya the primordial Earth had formed. The bodies in the Solar System evolved with the Sun. In theory, a solar nebula partitions a volume out of a molecular cloud by gravitational collapse, which begins to spin and flatten into a circumstellar disk, the planets grow out of that disk with the Sun. A nebula contains gas, ice grains, dust. According to nebular theory, planetesimals formed by accretion, with the primordial Earth taking 10–20 million years to form. A subject of research is the formation of some 4.53 Bya. A leading hypothesis is that it was formed by accretion from material loosed from Earth after a Mars-sized object, named Theia, hit Earth.
In this view, the mass of Theia was 10 percent of Earth, it hit Earth with a glancing blow and some of its mass merged with Earth. Between 4.1 and 3.8 Bya, numerous asteroid impacts during the Late Heavy Bombardment caused significant changes to the greater surface environment of the Moon and, by inference, to that of Earth. Earth's atmosphere and oceans were formed by volcanic outgassing. Water vapor from these sources condensed into the oceans, augmented by water and ice from asteroids and comets. In this model, atmospheric "greenhouse gases" kept the oceans from freezing when the newly forming Sun had only 70% of its current luminosity. By 3.5 Bya, Earth's magnetic field was established, which helped prevent the atmosphere from being stripped away by the solar wind. A crust formed; the two models that explain land mass propose either a steady growth to the present-day forms or, more a rapid growth early in Earth history followed by a long-term steady continental area. Continents formed by plate tectonics
SIMBAD is an astronomical database of objects beyond the Solar System. It is maintained by the Centre de données astronomiques de France. SIMBAD was created by merging the Catalog of Stellar Identifications and the Bibliographic Star Index as they existed at the Meudon Computer Centre until 1979, expanded by additional source data from other catalogues and the academic literature; the first on-line interactive version, known as Version 2, was made available in 1981. Version 3, developed in the C language and running on UNIX stations at the Strasbourg Observatory, was released in 1990. Fall of 2006 saw the release of Version 4 of the database, now stored in PostgreSQL, the supporting software, now written in Java; as of 10 February 2017, SIMBAD contains information for 9,099,070 objects under 24,529,080 different names, with 327,634 bibliographical references and 15,511,733 bibliographic citations. The minor planet 4692 SIMBAD was named in its honour. Planetary Data System – NASA's database of information on SSSB, maintained by JPL and Caltech.
NASA/IPAC Extragalactic Database – a database of information on objects outside the Milky Way maintained by JPL. NASA Exoplanet Archive – an online astronomical exoplanet catalog and data service Bibcode SIMBAD, Strasbourg SIMBAD, Harvard