Friday, August 23, 2013


August evenings are the best time to find part of this constellation low in the southern skies.  Sagittarius represents Chiron the Centaur, who is half man, half horse. Chiron was a great teacher of just about everyone in ancient Greece including Hercules.

Just after sunset you should see medium-bright stars that resemble a tea pot or coffee pot.  That's his body, out-stretched arm, bow and arrow.  Let you imagination figure that one out!

The constellation can be broken up into two smaller sections. The four stars that make up the very tiny dipper are also called the Milk Dipper because they lie in a thick patch of the Milky Way. Unfortunately, we have to go way out in the country to see this dipper scooping up milk. When you peer at Sagittarius, you are looking at the center of our galaxy. Imagine being in the center of the Milky Way - there would be so many stars nearby that night might be as bright as day.  And you might have to watch out for black holes!

The other part of Sagittarius is his bow and arrow. Three stars curve to form the bow and one sticks out to the right forming the arrow. Look at what he’s aiming that arrow at! It is aimed directly at the Scorpion’s heart, the red star Antares. But I still think the whole thing looks more like a coffee pot than a Centaur.

Try to find Sagittarius’ second brightest star. It was named Nunki about 5000 years ago by the Sumerians, but today we have no idea what Nunki means. Since the translation is lost to history you should invent your own for this blue-white, mystery star.