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unlearning the constellations

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#151 mark8888

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Posted 22 November 2012 - 10:12 AM

http://workshop.chro...ents.com/stars/

Helloooooooooo easy to use 3D map. This is great.
The trick is to zoom out a little past the oort cloud and then get a sense of the layout and the grid pattern by moving the mouse and shifting your perspective. Then zooming out slightly more and doing the same. Takes a little while to get the hang of it but the effort is rewarded. Awesome!
Works in chrome and possibly firefox, but apparently not explorer.
No program to download or instruction book to read. It works right in the browser.
By the way, of course I didnt make this! Others have been linking to it.
I'll attach a screen shot of this program in action.

Attached Files


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#152 dUbeni

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Posted 26 November 2012 - 11:27 PM

Thank you OP, and all those that contributed to this "Great Post". A true insight into our home in the Milky-Way galaxy.

... The thing that makes me wonder is "how" did the old ones get all there idea's? They didn't have light pollution, I don't think. And as some have said, from a dark sky there are so many stars that it is hard to pick out constellations. Orion is just a bunch of stars. Bright stars that make a pattern that is one of the most reconized. I'm sure that (I know) all them stars are not all associated with each other.


They didn't have light pollution but they had the moon, and in a moonlit night, even with great skies, only some asterism standout. To them stars were fixed on a sphere,there were no distances, and maybe they just named the asterisms after things that were significant to there life's, like the hunter, the water bearer, the bull, the ram, etc.
Until recently the only asterism I knew was a trapeze with 3 stars on a diagonal that I called "the 3 Mary's", now I know it's part of the Orion constellation. When I was 12 years old, and men went to the moon, I started wondering about the universe and how it would be like to see it from the outside, and how far out would I have to go, knowing it was impossible due to its infinite size.

As a beginner (2007), I obviously started with the constellations, as a road map of the sky in medium polluted skies, it works well. Anyway I feel the need know more about the relative position of the solar system plane and the galactic plane and how objects fill the space around us.
I support the idea of OP, of creating new maps of the sky with more 3D and galactic information.
It is fun to look at distribution of open clusters along the galactic plane vs the globular clusters on Hayden Digital Universe. Although I new that, its hard to see it on the charts.
I'm having a lot fun with the Hayden Digital Universe, great perspectives from within and the outside Milky-way (just starting to use it).

Clear skies
Bernardo

#153 Starman1

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Posted 27 November 2012 - 03:52 PM

Periodically, the "veil lifts" and we see reality for what it is:
One night at Mauna Kea, observing with friends, the Milky Way rose.
Now, at that latitude, the Milky Way doesn't rise tipped to the horizon--it rises parallel to the horizon.
The bulge of the Milky Way made it look, and just for a while, as if I was IN a spiral galaxy, fairly near the core, and seeing the huge bulge of that core covering a good swath of sky in front of me.
At that moment, I actually 'felt" the size of the galaxy and our place in it. And, looking around at other areas of the sky, got a sense of three-dimensionality to the whole sky and all the stars seen.
These moments of personal serendipity are just too rare.
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#154 payner

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Posted 27 November 2012 - 05:13 PM

Enjoyed reading your experienced perspective, Don. You drew an incredible picture with words.

#155 NGC7088

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Posted 01 January 2013 - 11:52 PM

WOW!
What an amazing topic!
I started my "feel" for the galaxy by reading Crossen's Binocular Astronomy (first edition) way back when. To me he's the father of this topic and I feel honored and privileged to find he's still around and now I'm sharing not only an era but also web space with him. Hello Mr. Crossen, I don't even feel worthy to be here while you are!
To Drollere:
Write your book and all of us will read it and enjoy it and learn from it and be a bit wiser. But I guarantee you one thing. All your Group names and locations, associations and directions for "this and that" feature here and there will always contain reference to the ol' constellations names. Exactly like you've already done in each of your posts so far so it will be in your book. Because they are here to stay. Good luck!

#156 C.Hay

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Posted 23 January 2015 - 12:53 PM

To my mind, this was the most significant thread on Cloudy Nights in the past years. It is a pity it fizzled out with no apparent heir. I see nothing like it on CN just now, nor in the other forum I frequent, Astronomie.de in Germany. So here's an attempt to rekindle the flame. Perhaps views have matured, or new participants emerged.

 

To take up the original poster's proposition: I agree entirely that the constellations, as cast in stone by the IAU, may be helpful to those with no acquaintance of the starry realm, but quickly stand in the way of becoming intimate with the night sky.

 

The stick-man figures popularized by H.E. Rey and others do devastating damage, as they are fantasy figures of an individual author that neither match the classical constructions of the constellations nor any figures that other observers are likely to perceive.

 

The classic Greek-Roman constellations will only resonate if the observer has considerable knowledge of the associated mythologies. Furthermore, the classic constellations were not stick-men, but rather two-dimensional fields in which brightnesses and dark patches within the Milky Way all combined to mould the figure. Perseus is perhaps the best example, in which parts of the Perseus-Taurus Dark Cloud Complex delineate legs of the prancing figure.

 

I hope I have cast enough fuel into the fire to rekindle it!



#157 galexand

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Posted 23 January 2015 - 02:20 PM

Personally, I'm happy as a pinhole observer.  It actually inadvertently gives me a good sense for the shape of the solar system.

 

I'd really like to have a better sense of the shape of the galaxy, and the shape of the universe as well.  I've made a few different attempts in that direction but it is really quite an overwhelming task.

 

Sometimes one of the NASA planet-hunting missions will make the news, and I will hear about some star about 10 light years away that has a not-quite-earth-like planet orbiting it.  That is pretty close, I'd like to observe it.  But invariably it is some 14th magnitude star in a catalog I've never heard of.  That's mind-blowing, even stars very very close to us are invisible because they aren't bright enough.  There must be a lot of stars out there!!! We can only see the brightest ones.



#158 jrbarnett

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Posted 23 January 2015 - 03:00 PM

Oh, I am all for "unlearning" the constellations.  We chatted briefly about it in this thread a while back:

 

http://www.cloudynig...constellations/

 

But unlike you, I'm in favor of creating new ones with new metaphorical associations that relevant to humans today.  I have no objection with associating particular collections of stars and other objects with non-celestial, objectively nonsequitur, cultural icons and mythologies.  Why?

 

Amateur astronomers are not scientists, generally.  The gather no data to advance the state of species' knowledge about the Cosmos.  They are philosophers, whether they know it or not.  Specifically they are folks who engage in the school of philosophy called "aesthetics".  Some of them are literalists observing the visual beauty of a thing based solely on their subjective internalization of its appearance and form.  Others, probably the majority, are metaphorists.  That is, they observer the visual beauty of a thing together with consideration of cultural associations for that thing, and subjectively internalize both the literal and the metaphorical aspects.  Saying one is right and the other wrong is nonsensical sense both lead to the same place - subjective appreciation of the beauty based on data acquired visually.

 

If we both agree that the Pleiades are beautiful, but merely disagree as to why, what of it?  The presence or absence of a cultural component in arriving at our respective conclusions has no independent benefit or validity.   :thinking:

 

Regards,

 

Jim  


Edited by jrbarnett, 23 January 2015 - 03:02 PM.


#159 schang

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Posted 23 January 2015 - 04:58 PM

Given enough time, I understood that the Orion Constellation will look pretty different from what we see now, as well as others.  No need to unlearn if one lives long enough. :lol:  These constellations are just landmarks in the night sky for me.  While I think it is worthwhile to learn the spatial relationship between our world and other stars, if one is interested.  But for me, I am overwhelmed by the sheer number of them dispersed in the vast space to the point that I get lost no matter what I do to memorize the available information, if I do not also have these old constellations/landmarks as my reference.  To be honest, if someone sends me into space, I bet I do not need to unlearn anything...All those familiar constellations would be erased from my memory instantly and I will be lost in no time :grin:      



#160 Starman1

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Posted 23 January 2015 - 06:09 PM

I am a proponent of depicting the constellations as connect-the-dots patterns.

It helps you realize directions in the sky, what constellations are up, and what objects you may be able to see.

 

Knowing the mythological significance of the patterns isn't strictly necessary unless you like to know the myths and associate those myths with historical groups.

 

But I am also a proponent of having those patterns represent the objects they are.

You might connect the dots of Cygnus like on this page:

http://www.seasky.or...-september.html

but what you are representing is what's on this page:

http://www.redorbit...._constellation/

 

You might connect the dots for Orion as on the right here:

http://www.astromax....nter/ori-01.htm

But what you are representing is what's here:

http://www.crystalinks.com/orion.html  and go a little way down the page to see the drawing.

 

Or Canis Major:

Stick figure:

http://www.absolutea...anis_major.html

Drawings:

http://mail.colonial...ethleaweb2.html and go down the page a bit.

 

The sky is filled with monsters, gods, heroes, ships, scientific instruments, and animals from flies to giraffes.

 

What is the value of learning the connect the dots patterns?

One very modern value is in the boundaries of the constellations.  If you know the connect-the-dots patterns, you know about where the constellations end,

and that could help at the telescope.  But the best reason is never feeling lost under the stars.  I went to Australia last year and was under a sky filled with

familiar constellations (but upside down) and many unfamiliar ones.  But by my 3rd night there, I knew which constellations were rising and which setting

and felt at home under the stars.  Knowing the constellations is a little like being home.


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#161 Tony Flanders

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Posted 23 January 2015 - 06:34 PM

The constellations, as cast in stone by the IAU, may be helpful to those with no acquaintance of the starry realm, but quickly stand in the way of becoming intimate with the night sky.


Really? An obstacle? It seems to me that anybody who can't look at a single subject or phenomenon from multiple points of view has a pretty narrow mind. How can knowing anything possibly stand in the way of learning anything else? It's not like your brain has a fixed, limited capacity. On the contrary, the more you exercise it the better it gets.
 

The stick-man figures popularized by H.E. Rey and others do devastating damage.

 
I trust you don't mean that literally! I'm not a big fan of H.A. Rey's constellations, but I certainly don't consider them damaging, let alone devastating.

The classic Greek-Roman constellations will only resonate if the observer has considerable knowledge of the associated mythologies.


That's not the point. In fact, fewer than half of the traditional constellations are Greco-Roman; many of them date back long before that, and the original mythology behind them is lost forever. Many other constellations were invented in the Renaissance or later. The IAU only codified what was there; it didn't really contribute anything new. It's interesting and fun to learn about the origins of the constellations, but that is not what they're all about.

The constellations are a universal vocabulary, a way of dividing the sky into manageable pieces. They are, ultimately, arbitrary. The sky could be divided up in all manner of other ways, some arguably better, all certainly different. But why bother when we have inherited a perfectly functional system?

The words that comprise the English language are also arbitrary -- but that doesn't make them any less useful. English has all manner of undesirable features, as do all other languages, but there's zero percentage in trying to invent a new and "better" language. That has been tried and failed.

Anybody who doesn't learn the traditional constellations is cutting himself or herself off from the cumulative wisdom of astronomers, who have been using that vocabulary since time that is -- literally -- immemorial.
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#162 Starman1

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Posted 23 January 2015 - 06:49 PM

The problem I have with Rey's re-working of the connect-the-dots figures is that they:

--include too few stars in each constellation

--resemble less the figures they purport to represent

--differ from the patterns shown from roughly 1900 to 1980.

All such patterns are, basically, arbitrary (look up Chinese constellations to get a good idea HOW arbitrary).

 

I'm not sure where I learned my patterns (lost in time).  Could've been 1950s Sky & Telescope or

books by Edmund Scientific, or other books of the time.  But it was about 1962 I learned all of them to earn a merit badge.

Like a lot of old codgers, I dislike more modern representations.  Typical, right?


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#163 csrlice12

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Posted 23 January 2015 - 07:11 PM

Like it or not, it's the way man has passed on knowledge for untold generations, a recognizable common point of knowledge.  We used the stars for navigation many years before the invention of the compass, regardless of the language or cultural background....


Edited by csrlice12, 23 January 2015 - 07:12 PM.

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#164 jrbarnett

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Posted 23 January 2015 - 09:29 PM

http://workshop.chro...ents.com/stars/

Helloooooooooo easy to use 3D map. This is great.
The trick is to zoom out a little past the oort cloud and then get a sense of the layout and the grid pattern by moving the mouse and shifting your perspective. Then zooming out slightly more and doing the same. Takes a little while to get the hang of it but the effort is rewarded. Awesome!
Works in chrome and possibly firefox, but apparently not explorer.
No program to download or instruction book to read. It works right in the browser.
By the way, of course I didnt make this! Others have been linking to it.
I'll attach a screen shot of this program in action.

Very cool.  Next time I visit my mum on Epsilon Eridani IV, I'll make a point of checking out the night skies.

 

:grin:

 

- Jim


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#165 ArtyoftheGW

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Posted 24 January 2015 - 12:27 PM

The night sky just seems an infinite puzzle.  You think you know what you see, then learn it is not that at all.  Wait, it really is an infinite puzzle.

 

Every question answered brings at least one more question.  And the future will show we had it wrong.



#166 rowdy388

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Posted 24 January 2015 - 12:35 PM

The night sky just seems an infinite puzzle.  You think you know what you see, then learn it is not that at all.  Wait, it really is an infinite puzzle.

 

Every question answered brings at least one more question.  And the future will show we had it wrong.

I think given enough time we will eventually figure it all out.  The progress since I was a boy is simply amazing.  Let's hope we have the wisdom to not destroy our blue-green marble along with ourselves first.

Dave Y



#167 Tony Flanders

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Posted 24 January 2015 - 01:37 PM

The night sky just seems an infinite puzzle.  You think you know what you see, then learn it is not that at all.  Wait, it really is an infinite puzzle.
 
Every question answered brings at least one more question.  And the future will show we had it wrong.

I think given enough time we will eventually figure it all out.


I don't think so. And very few professional astronomers or physicists think so. No doubt our understanding will continue to improve, but I'm quite sure in my heart of hearts that there's no such thing as a complete solution. And the Goedel incompleteness theorem strongly hints that that's true even in theory, let alone in practice.

#168 schang

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Posted 24 January 2015 - 02:17 PM

The way I understood about theories is that they are proven, though under specific assumptions.  Once those assumptions are not applicable, then the theories are not applicable under those situations.  So far, I have not seen one single theory that does not come with one or more assumptions....

 

Using this incompleteness theorem on the "big bang theory", and the "quantum fluctuations" hypothesis, I just can not fathom how these two things can be tied up together. :grin:



#169 csrlice12

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Posted 24 January 2015 - 03:19 PM

If I wake up in the morning, I assume I'm still alive...... ;)



#170 Starman1

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Posted 24 January 2015 - 03:25 PM

Science proceeds by steps:

--evidence or experiment suggests something

--hypothesis explains evidence and leads to better experiment or better avenues for research.

--More evidence fits with hypothesis

--Hypothesis becomes theory

--theory leads to collection of more evidence and better, more complete, explanation of evidence

 

At this point, most see that collection of more evidence will confirm theory.

If a lot of evidence accumulates that seems to invalidate the theory, the theory is adjusted to fit the evidence,

or thrown out in favor of a new theory that better explains the evidence.

 

FACT is not a scientific word.  All theories are subject to revision to fit the evidence.

 

When dealing with "deep time", we simply haven't the minds to comprehend it.  A universe billions of years old is beyond our understanding.

"Big Bang" is a bad name.  A better term would have been Space-Time Origination, since a bang expands into something and, in this case, it was 

the something that expanded from a point.  Quantum fluctuations could explain the start, and perhaps trillions of years in the making.

We have no comprehension of that amount of time, and it's meaningless anyway, since there was no space and time prior to the Big Bang.

Some day we may be able to explain it with math, but it will be a hypothesis likely untested by evidence unless we can figure out how to observe

the starting point.

 

We make assumptions as a starting point for a hypothesis.  If the evidence doesn't fit, out goes the assumption.

If an explanation started with an assumption and proceeded all the way to a working theory, that was a darned good assumption.


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#171 bumm

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Posted 24 January 2015 - 04:09 PM

Starman1 said:

     Knowing the constellations is a little like being home.

 

Garrett Serviss said it well in 1888, when he wrote of learning the constellations..

     "when you have done it you will feel amply repaid for your exertions, and you will have made for yourself silent friends in the heavens that will beam kindly upon you, like old neighbors, on whatever side of the world you may wander."

     If I ever found that I'd "unlearned" the constellations, I'd feel that a piece of me had died.

                                                                                                                        Marty

    


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#172 dUbeni

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Posted 24 January 2015 - 05:50 PM

This post is like going into an excellent gourmet restaurant with delightful food for thought  :raspberry:

Since I first read this topic 2 years ago, I have by default the galactic grid turned on the first 3 levels of SkyMap Pro, and I also have the outline of the Milky Way, invisible here on my urban skies, so it's hard to have a good perception of the solar system plane in relation to the galactic plane, I know it's kind of perpendicular to the center of our galaxy Via Láctea, reason why I see Orion in the winter and Sagittarius in Summer.

 

Back on topic  ;) , here I learned that Coma Berenice is the galactic north and Sculptor in the south and for me this are two good references. I like the constellations and their names and stories the same way I like the name and stories of places I go, like London, Paris, Prague, Madrid, New York, New Delhi, Kathmandu, etc., although I never liked the borders, I'm never sure if I'm there yet or not, never saw them on the constellations either, and don't see great use for them, the equatorial grid is all I need for star hopping and the stick figures, and a 30º grid is all I need for first approach, either galactic or equatorial.

I'm new at this so I'm not very attached to the figures, not long ago I thought Orion was a trapeze with 3 Marys in the middle.

 

I do understand one thing: the actual charts and constellations don´t really express the current knowledge about our galactic space. What I have and use are good earthling road maps  :eyecrazy: like Stellarium, eg. yesterday I placed it at Mauna Kea on a summer night, and was able to have an idea of Don experience, a must have to go there  :waytogo:.

 

A couple years ago, after reading this topic, I printed out some charts with the galactic grid and tried to give it a shot with some info I had gathered, but it is obviously an expert field out of my domain.

So I'm waiting patiently for the first edition of the galactic constellations  :imawake: .

 

Sincerely

Bernardo

 

 

 


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#173 jrbarnett

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Posted Yesterday, 11:14 AM

If I wake up in the morning, I assume I'm still alive...... ;)

Kind of a variation on cogito ergo sum - si excitare sum vivens.

 

Regards,

 

Jim








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