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What are the advantages of living in the northern hemisphere?

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#1 birger

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Posted 10 April 2020 - 04:03 AM

As we all know, objects in the night sky are very unequally distributed over the celestial hemispheres. People in the southern hemisphere enjoy a lot of really cool things:

  • Milky Way center, probably the most noticeable feature of the southern sky
  • Centaurus region, which is much brighter than the Cygnus region of the MW
  • Magellanic clouds
  • Carina nebula, Orion nebula
  • Omega Centauri, 47 Tucanae
  • Centaurus A
  • The two brightest stars in the night sky, Sirius and Canopus, as well as the fourth brightest, Alpha Centauri
  • Mars at closest opposition
  • Mercury better positioned compared to equal latitudes in the northern hemisphere
  • Even comets seem to favorize the southern hemisphere (McNaught, PanSTARRS, ISON etc)

 

These are some really cool objects and events, which are all located in the southern celestial hemisphere. This doesn't necessarily mean they are invisible from the north, but they are better viewed from the southern hemisphere.

 

I can think of a few things which are better seen in the north:

  • Andromexa Galaxy, Triangulum Galaxy (nothing compared to the Magellanic clouds)
  • Pleiades, M44
  • Double Cluster
  • A truly bright pole star (for now!)
  • M81/M82, M53, M101
  • M13 (a joke compared to ω Centauri)
  • North American nebula (not nearly as impressive as Carina nebula...)
  • Generally, the constellation patterns seem clearer in the northern hemisphere, but this might be due to Western bias

 

But that's about it. I envy those living in Australia, New Zealand and other southern locations, for having a much better night sky. Furthermore, since the southern hemisphere is sparsely populated, dark skies are much more common, and the skies seem clearer due to less pollution.

 

To residents of the southern hemisphere: Is there any object in the northern hemisphere that you can't see from your home, that you would want to see?



#2 edwincjones

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Posted 10 April 2020 - 04:32 AM

From my one trip to NZ my thoughts are that both hemispheres are about equal,

it is just that the southern objects seem more concentrated after a lifetime of seeing

the northern objects in 2/3 of the sky.

 

My host was excited when I showed him the double double in Lyrae.

 

edj


Edited by edwincjones, 10 April 2020 - 06:16 AM.

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#3 DLuders

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Posted 10 April 2020 - 04:54 AM

Northerners have a better opportunity to see Aurorae, since there is more land area around the north magnetic pole and there are more people to see them!  smile.gif 


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#4 Migwan

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Posted 10 April 2020 - 06:03 AM

Light pollution, maybe a little less extensive?   If so, then the grass is greener.  jd



#5 schmeah

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Posted 10 April 2020 - 07:15 AM

Polar alignment is easier. Can’t think of anything else.


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#6 bumm

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Posted 10 April 2020 - 07:38 AM

As a lover of the ancient constellations, I'd say that the Northern hemisphere view of those is better.  I can see them all, and in the "proper" orientation.  This would probably be a minor thing for most, but pretty vital for me.

                                                                    Marty


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#7 BradFran

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Posted 10 April 2020 - 07:43 AM

The Moon is right side up!


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#8 Carol L

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Posted 10 April 2020 - 09:57 AM

No kangaroos hopping around our observing area. smirk.gif


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#9 csrlice12

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Posted 10 April 2020 - 10:10 AM

Gravity has us standing upright....big plus.

 

I'll make a WAG here and state we got more satellites up North.


Edited by csrlice12, 10 April 2020 - 10:13 AM.


#10 schmeah

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Posted 10 April 2020 - 10:22 AM

Toilet water spins in the proper direction.


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#11 Saravanja

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Posted 11 April 2020 - 07:40 AM

As someone that originally came from the land down under, I can say it is pretty hard to get used to such barren skies in the north, North Carolina for me.

I've recently bought a telescope in the usa but rarely used it. I'm almost certain I caused the cloudy skies since they started just after I got the telescope.

Over two months now!

 

What I want to see are the galaxies. The south is galaxy poor while the north is galaxy rich. I have yet to see any however, including m31. Timing and bad skies mainly. There are also globulars here more than the south, but nothing like omega centauri, which is clearly visible by eye.

I also observed in near perfect skyes down under, but here am hard pressed to find either the quality or quantity of good days. The east coast is just not that dark and I'm in semi urban skies.

My aim recently is m1. Planetarys are easier here, but again, I've yet to see one.

 

Most of all however, from the south you don't get access to the Messier objects. Some are visible, however go south as opposed to just south of the equator, and you can kiss many goodbye. I aim to see all of them while I am here, just to say I did it.


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#12 Araguaia

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Posted 11 April 2020 - 07:52 AM

You can see M81 and M82.

 

M51 and M101 with their lovely spiral arms actually rise above 30 degrees.

 

Constellations like Cassiopeia and Camelopardalis actually exist in the sky.

 

You don't have to get up pre-dawn in the right season to see M31 and M33 with good transparency.

 

You can actually see the 90% of reported comets and supernovae that seem to be north of Auriga.

 

You can see Orion outside mosquito season.


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#13 Chris Johnson

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Posted 11 April 2020 - 11:36 AM

Approximately 72% of the earths land mass is in the northern hemisphere and 88% of the population lives in the northern hemisphere. I would say that the Southern Hemisphere with its night skies is at a distinct advantage. 


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#14 LDW47

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Posted 11 April 2020 - 11:54 AM

I thought this post was directed at those living in the southern hemisphere as to what northern hemisphere objects that they would like to see but can’t from their latitudes ie the last paragraph in the original post ? All the answers for the most part are from northern astronomers, not surprising ! Clear southern nites !


Edited by LDW47, 11 April 2020 - 03:43 PM.


#15 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 11 April 2020 - 02:15 PM

As we all know, objects in the night sky are very unequally distributed over the celestial hemispheres. People in the southern hemisphere enjoy a lot of really cool things:

 

Milky Way center, probably the most noticeable feature of the southern sky
(Centaurus region, which is much brighter than the Cygnus region of the MW)
Magellanic clouds
Carina nebula, Orion nebula
Omega Centauri, 47 Tucanae
Centaurus A
The two brightest stars in the night sky, Sirius and Canopus, as well as the fourth brightest, Alpha Centauri
Mars at closest opposition
Mercury better positioned compared to equal latitudes in the northern hemisphere
Even comets seem to favorize the southern hemisphere (McNaught, PanSTARRS, ISON etc)

 

I can what is not crossed out from my location about at 32.6 N.  The planets do not favor either hemisphere in the long run.  Mars this opposition will be 62 degree elevation at transit.  Omega Centauri is naked eye. 

 

Jon



#16 Tony Flanders

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Posted 11 April 2020 - 02:17 PM

As a lover of the ancient constellations, I'd say that the Northern hemisphere view of those is better.  I can see them all, and in the "proper" orientation.  This would probably be a minor thing for most, but pretty vital for me.


That's a very good point! I never really thought of it that way, but in retrospect it is indeed an obvious advantage to being in the Northern Hemisphere.

 

As for deep-sky objects, the one I would miss most is the Double Cluster, my very favorite open cluster (or cluster pair) in the entire sky, north or south. And yes, I have indeed seen all the good ones in both hemispheres multiple times.

 

I would also miss M51, M101, M81, and M82 greatly. And IC 1396, the great emission nebula in Cepheus. And the Alpha Persei Cluster. And I could name dozens of other great objects north of Dec 45. But yes, I'd trade those all gladly for the Magellanic Clouds, the far-southern Milky Way, Omega Cen, and 47 Tuc.


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#17 Tony Flanders

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Posted 11 April 2020 - 02:20 PM

The planets do not favor either hemisphere in the long run.


Yeah, but in the long run we will all be dead. Due to precession, Mars will eventually have a close opposition north of the celestial equator, but I don't recommend holding your breath.

 

Altitude above the horizon makes a huge difference for viewing the planets. I got a better view of Mars in 2003 two months after opposition in the Southern Hemisphere than I ever got when it was closest in the Northern Hemisphere.

 

There is also a big, big difference between seeing Omega Cen just above the horizon and overhead. And an even bigger difference with Centaurus A. Trust me, you have to experience it for yourself. Argument from ignorance is bad style.


Edited by Tony Flanders, 11 April 2020 - 02:27 PM.

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#18 Allan Wade

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Posted 11 April 2020 - 06:52 PM

 

What I want to see are the galaxies. The south is galaxy poor while the north is galaxy rich. I have yet to see any however, including m31. Timing and bad skies mainly. There are also globulars here more than the south, but nothing like omega centauri, which is clearly visible by eye.

 

Most of all however, from the south you don't get access to the Messier objects. Some are visible, however go south as opposed to just south of the equator, and you can kiss many goodbye. I aim to see all of them while I am here, just to say I did it.

The south is blessed with galaxies, many of the best and favourites in the sky.

There are four times more globular clusters in the south.

 

From 32S, there are nine Messiers I can’t see. Messier observing is very good, with many of them in the deep south. 



#19 Allan Wade

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Posted 11 April 2020 - 07:12 PM

I get to do lots of observing in the north, and enjoy the experience so much, as any avid observer would. Considering galaxies are amongst my favourite objects, it’s the northern galaxies that I like revisiting when ever I can. Many of which I observe from home, but obviously observing them high in the sky is so much more rewarding.

 

I know the southern sky intimately though in comparison to the north, and love it because it’s my sky. It’s what I’ve grown up with, and more for that reason I wouldn’t swap it with the north. I’m sure northerners feel the same way.

 

I say the greatest advantage of the north, and the US particularly is how large the astronomy scene is. Many of the great companies providing our equipment are based there. Many of the great star parties of the world are in the US. I have friends from coast to coast, and I like the observing buzz out of the US.


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#20 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 11 April 2020 - 07:51 PM

Yeah, but in the long run we will all be dead. Due to precession, Mars will eventually have a close opposition north of the celestial equator, but I don't recommend holding your breath.

 

Altitude above the horizon makes a huge difference for viewing the planets. I got a better view of Mars in 2003 two months after opposition in the Southern Hemisphere than I ever got when it was closest in the Northern Hemisphere.

 

There is also a big, big difference between seeing Omega Cen just above the horizon and overhead. And an even bigger difference with Centaurus A. Trust me, you have to experience it for yourself. Argument from ignorance is bad style.

Tony:

 

Arguing from ignorance? 

 

I don't have to see it to know that they would be better in a large aperture scope from the southern hemisphere.  But I play the cards I am dealt and both are on the table from 32.6 degrees north.

 

I never claimed the views of Omega Centauri and Centaurus A were as good as they could be from further south. But both are easily visible at 10 degrees and 15 degrees elevation and actually impressive on a good night in a 20 inch plus scope.  And Omega Centauri is naked eye.

 

Jon


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#21 BradFran

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Posted 12 April 2020 - 04:38 AM

If I were to live in the south (which I would do instantly given the chance), in addition to what others have listed, the Cat's Eye and Owl nebulae come immediately to mind as old friends to visit upon traveling north. I love the Perseus area in general and have to reiterate the Double Cluster as a northern highlight of highlights. I would miss seeing Draco slither around little dipper, no more than I would miss saying hello to Cassiopeia at the beginning of every observing session. I would miss watching her great W dace about the pole, trading places with the Big Dipper night after night.


Edited by BradFran, 12 April 2020 - 08:42 AM.

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#22 Araguaia

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Posted 12 April 2020 - 06:46 AM

The Owl planetary is indeed one of the objects I wish would rise higher.  I have never seen the Cat's Eye - never had a clear night when it was up.

 

The Double Cluster to me is a rare and wonderful observation.  It is only visible between some trees during the rainy season.  Most years I can't see it at all.


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#23 Thierrys

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Posted 12 April 2020 - 08:23 AM

Comet C/2019 Y4 (ATLAS) observation from the southern hemisphere is very hard! It's so low on the horizon and will get worse.
We are also missing a near motionless star in the sky like Polaris.



#24 BradFran

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Posted 12 April 2020 - 09:10 AM

Let's add:

Strongman cluster, Stock 2 in Cassiopeia

ET cluster, NGC 457 in Cassiopeia

red/white double WZ Cassiopeieae

Pac-man nebula, NGC 281 in Cassiopeia

Caroline's Rose (or White Rose) open cluster, NGC 7789 in Cassiopeia

The "Splinter" edge on galaxy, NGC 5907 in Draco

galaxy NGC 6946 in Cepheus

planetary nebula NGC 40 in Cepheus

Mizar and Alcor, the "Horse and Rider" naked eye double in Ursa Major

 

If we go far south, where we can no longer see Pegasus and Canes Venatici clearly, there are many more that would be nice to get off the horizon.

 

I would also dearly miss seeing the three parts of Veil nebula high in the sky. One of the true treats of the northern summer sky with an OIII filter. For that matter having the entire summer triangle straight up overhead.


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#25 csrlice12

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Posted 12 April 2020 - 10:17 AM

North, South, it doesn't matter.....to quote a movie line...My God, it's full of stars.  What's Grand is that there's more than we could possibly see in a single lifetime.


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