Author Topic: Arcturus or Alpha Bootis  (Read 831 times)

Joel Hall

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Arcturus or Alpha Bootis
« on: December 24, 2017, 09:11:52 AM »
For someone Studying the Skies, is it better to Find star Titles (e.g Arcturus) or the naming convention that is Greek letter for relative brightness and Constellation (e.g. Alpha Bootis)
On one hand, it would seem easier to remember 100 star names.  On the other hand using all the Greek letter / constellation system you understand the constellations, their places and their celebrities.



Omar Manning

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Re: Arcturus or Alpha Bootis
« Reply #1 on: December 24, 2017, 09:36:14 AM »
<p>Star Names.</p>

afelfillia

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Re: Arcturus or Alpha Bootis
« Reply #2 on: December 28, 2017, 04:39:15 AM »
Agreed. More commonly known and accepted.

dextcinthrervest

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Re: Arcturus or Alpha Bootis
« Reply #3 on: December 29, 2017, 11:31:51 AM »
Perhaps it pays to learn the 20 or 30 most common star names and then Bayer?

ruesonecrai

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Re: Arcturus or Alpha Bootis
« Reply #4 on: December 29, 2017, 05:00:05 PM »
Quote
Perhaps it pays to learn the 20 or 30 most common star names and then Bayer?

Agreed.
You should know at least the proper names of each of the 1st magnitude stars, but remembering names for the 2nd magnitude stars is a waste of time.
Much better to remember the Bayer letters. Easier to find on charts, in computer catalogs, on-line databases, and no alternate spellings around.

Cesar Norris

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Re: Arcturus or Alpha Bootis
« Reply #5 on: December 29, 2017, 05:49:19 PM »
Quote
Quote
For someone learning the sky, is it better to learn star names (e.g Arcturus) or the naming convention that is Greek letter for relative brightness and Constellation (e.g. Alpha Bootis)
On one hand, it would seem easier to remember 100 star names. On the other hand with the Greek letter / constellation system you learn the constellations, their locations and their stars.


Quote

Perhaps it pays to learn the 20 or 30 most common star names and then Bayer?

Agreed.
You should know at least the proper names of each of the 1st magnitude stars, but remembering names for the 2nd magnitude stars is a waste of time.
.....

Albireo is magnitude ~mag 3 or dimmer.

Eric Hayes

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Re: Arcturus or Alpha Bootis
« Reply #6 on: December 31, 2017, 09:39:11 PM »
If you call stars with well-known names by some catalog designation, even other astronomers will think you are a nerd and deservedly so.

Algol is ~mag 2.

cesconali

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Re: Arcturus or Alpha Bootis
« Reply #7 on: January 08, 2018, 04:03:10 AM »
+1 for star names

Michael Burney

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Re: Arcturus or Alpha Bootis
« Reply #8 on: January 09, 2018, 04:05:40 PM »
Quote
Perhaps it pays to learn the 20 or 30 most common star names and then Bayer?

Completely agree!

Your post got my curiosity up, so I pulled out my star dial to see how many stars I knew by name and how many constellations I can easily recognize. I came up with 24 stars and 35 constellations. Those numbers have worked well for me for many years.

On any given clear night, I can go out and find up to 100 objects without go-to and without a star map. It's not any more difficult than knowing where the cities and towns are in your own state or where all the key stores are in your hometown (I'll bet you could jump in your car right now and find 35 stores by name without a map!). If you know all of the major constellations (zodiac plus other key constellations or constellations with key objects), that's all you need. The total number is going to be different for everyone depending on how you observe and what you use for observing. Not too overwhelming if you learn them over the course of 4 seasons and then give yourself refresher quizzes over the course of the next 4 seasons.

Go-To has crippled constellation and star name learning to a large extent in my opinion. Even if you have go-to, it's always a good, comforting feeling if you know your way around the sky. After all, the night sky is part of your hometown too.

Christopher Mendez

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Re: Arcturus or Alpha Bootis
« Reply #9 on: January 10, 2018, 12:18:34 AM »
If you don't learn the proper names how will you ever find Zubenelgenubi, Zubeneschemali, Yed Prior, Yed Posterior or Phecda, to name a very tiny few?

Dave

tradneedcoegen

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Re: Arcturus or Alpha Bootis
« Reply #10 on: January 10, 2018, 12:49:59 AM »
Quote
If you don't learn the proper names how will you ever find Zubenelgenubi, Zubeneschemali, Yed Prior, Yed Posterior or Phecda, to name a very tiny few?

Dave


belohalcu

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Re: Arcturus or Alpha Bootis
« Reply #11 on: January 10, 2018, 11:44:38 AM »
Quote
If you don't learn the proper names how will you ever find Zubenelgenubi, Zubeneschemali, Yed Prior, Yed Posterior or Phecda, to name a very tiny few?

Dave


In my experience, the stars are still there regardless of what I call them.. In my discussions with the various stars, they tell me, they don't care what anyone calls them and that in any event, no one on earth uses their real names, earthlings just make up names for them..

Jon

wellbanstubars

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Re: Arcturus or Alpha Bootis
« Reply #12 on: January 10, 2018, 04:54:51 PM »
Quote
For someone learning the sky, is it better to learn star names (e.g Arcturus) or the naming convention that is Greek letter for relative brightness and Constellation (e.g. Alpha Bootis)
On one hand, it would seem easier to remember 100 star names. On the other hand with the Greek letter / constellation system you learn the constellations, their locations and their stars.

I can assure you that it is not easy to learn 100 star names. In many ways the Bayer names (Greek letter and constellation) are easier, because with just 24 letters and 88 constellation names -- both of which you ought to know anyway, for other reasons -- you can name just about any important naked-eye star.

However, the very brightest stars (magnitude 1.5 and brighter) are invariably called by their "proper" names -- with the exception of a few stars in the far-southern sky. So you will hear "Arcturus" far more often than "Alpha Bootis." On the other hand, since everyone knows that Arcturus is the brightest star in Bootis, it's pretty obvious that the two names denote the same star.

There are also a few stars with special properties that are almost always called by their "proper" names, most obviously Polaris, which doesn't qualify on brightness alone. Also the stars of the Pleiades (some of which are quite faint), some important double stars such as Mizar (Zeta UMa) and Albireo (Beta Cyg), the variable Algol (Beta Per), and so on. All in all, there are some 30 stars that are almost always called by their proper names in the amateur literature, and another 10 or 15 that are sometimes called by proper name and sometimes by Bayer letter (for instance, Mirfak = Alpha Per).

There are also some star names that are simply cool, most notably Zubenelgenubi.

moiquadachus

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Re: Arcturus or Alpha Bootis
« Reply #13 on: January 11, 2018, 06:58:13 AM »
Quote

There are also some star names that are simply cool, most notably Zubenelgenubi.
And if you tell a newbie that name, she'll say "You're making that up!"

David Collins

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Re: Arcturus or Alpha Bootis
« Reply #14 on: January 12, 2018, 05:16:00 AM »
Quote
For someone learning the sky, is it better to learn star names (e.g Arcturus) or the naming convention that is Greek letter for relative brightness and Constellation (e.g. Alpha Bootis)
On one hand, it would seem easier to remember 100 star names. On the other hand with the Greek letter / constellation system you learn the constellations, their locations and their stars.

The answer is to learn both proper names and Bayer designations. But if you were going to learn just one, it depends.

Outside the US and maybe Britain, proper/traditional names are less common. Particularly when talking of stars other than the brightest 100 or so in the sky. There is some logic to this. For one, the Bayer designations are somewhat scientific in the sense that the Greek letter alphabetical ranking generally corresponds to decreasing stellar magnitude within a given constellation. If you know the constellation generally but don't know the individual stars, you could make a good guess using the Bayer designations and be right more often than not for the brightest constellation stars.

That's not to say that proper names aren't useful too. They are, but the correlations to other information are a bit more oblique and often rely on other knowledge to make sense. For example, sometimes the stars are named for mythological characters from the same myth-cycle that includes the main constellation figure. That would be a mythological correlation.

Other times the star names correspond to the traditional figure depicted by the constellation, including its orientation. For an anthropomorphic constellation figure, star names may correspond to "heel", "knee", "shoulder", etc., in some language (most often classical Arabic). To some extent these correlations are less useful because they are more obscure and require the knower to know a lot more to make the names make sense contextually.

Personally I like, and prefer, proper names, including the associated history, linguistics and mythology. But I do understand the other perspective, too. Let's face it - no Bayer designation comes even remotely close in coolness to Zubenelgenubi.  ("Zubenelgenubi" is derived from the Arabic الزُبَانَى الجَنُوبِي. It means "the southern claw" but the reason is a little obscure. To the ancient Arabs, Parts of Libra and all of Scorpius were part of a single constellation, a scorpion, and this star, now located in Libra, had the position of the scorpion's southern claw historically.

Zubenelgenubi is doubly useful in that it also illustrates an example of where the Bayer system actually fails. Zubenelgenubi is designated Alpha Librae in the Bayer Catalog. Problem is, it's not the brightest star in the constellation; Beta Librae, or Zubeneschamali (from الزُبَانَى الشَمَالِي, meaning "the northern claw") is brighter. In antiquity Beta Librae was said to have been even brighter (as bright as Antares according to Ptolemy) than it is today, leading to a suspicion of either variability on the part of Zubeneschamali or gradual brightening of Antares over the centuries.

There is another problem with using proper names, though, and that is the fact that every culture proximate to one another that has looked up into the night sky has taken it upon themselves to designate constellations and name stars. This means that through time most bright stars have worn multiple traditional names. Not being content to do stupid things with the categorization of planets in the Sol system, those officious meddlers in the IAU took it upon themselves last year to consider all of the various historical and traditional names for all properly named stars, and tell us which of these historical names we, the humble gazers at stars, are permitted to use. I find the IAU to be utterly worthless for a variety of reasons, and am considering starting up a contrarian working group of my own to specifically designate each star where the IAU elevated one proper name over one or more others, bit its alternative name(s) instead.

Regards,

Jim