Astronomy information at Laguna Atascosa

Federal officials are seeking comment from the public on a proposal to expand access to the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge and Bahia Grande. An open house is scheduled for Oct. 16 at the Los Fresnos Fire Department. (File photo/The Brownsville Herald)

If you are new to astronomy, or have burning astronomy related questions rattling around in your brain, then I have what may be good news for you. The South Texas Astronomical Society is collaborating with Laguna Atascosa Wildlife Refuge to provide some astronomy information for those of you who are looking for some.

We are going to launch an Ask an Astronomer opportunity on the two websites. You will be able to submit your questions and we will answer them for you. Most of the questions will have two kinds of answers-a simple one for beginners, and then a more in-depth one for those who have a stronger interest in what’s up there. Use the Facebook pages for any of the collaborators: Facebook.com/STARSocietyRGV; Facebook.com/LagunaAtascosaNWR; or Facebook.com/BrownsvillePublicLibrary

Those evening walks around the neighborhood can give someone interested to know more a perfect opportunity to learn about the inhabitants of our sky dome. Facing east about ten o’clock PM will reveal Leo the Lion at the meridian. The blue star at his front paws is Regulus, one of the brighter stars in the sky at the present.

Stars come in several colors, red, white, blue, yellow, with colors in between-but no green. Their colors depend on their temperature, with blue stars hotter and red ones cooler. Depending on the clarity and darkness of the viewing location the colors are more distinct. From our point of view on Earth most stars appear white and almost the same size and brightness.

However, when the sky conditions are good, then a variety of colors and differences in brightness is quickly apparent. Using a classification system called the H-R Diagram the stars are divided into groups according to their absolute magnitude, or brightness, and color, which is a result of the temperature and the combination of the chemical elements that comprise the star.

The temperature range is a result of the elements which give stars a color of the visible light spectral classed as O, B, A, F, G, K. M-Oh, Be A Fine Guy/Girl; Kiss Me. Using the absolute brightness and temperatures, the resulting graphic is a scatterplot of colorful stars.

Following Leo is Virgo. This large constellation has a strange shape when the dots are connected. The most noticeable star in Virgo is Spica. This spectacular star marks a corner of the constellation.

Following Virgo into the sky after midnight is Libra, the Scales which also is home to a blue star and a red one at opposite corners of the constellation. Libra is located on the ecliptic, the path in the sky that the Sun, Moon, and planets travel along in their voyages across the sky.

Above Virgo, near the zenith, there is a red-orange star that is named Arcturus, the tip of the kite shape of Boötes, the Herdsman. When I was first learning about locating stars and constellations, I used a mnemonic device to search out particular ones. “Follow the arc (of the handle of the Big Dipper in the north) to Arcturus, spike to Spica, and keep on to Corvus the Crow.”

Increase your knowledge of the night sky by joining the South Texas Astronomical Society for virtual meetings until our world reopens. Check out our Facebook page for information or to submit those astronomy-related queries. https://www.facebook.com/STARSocietyRGV/

Until next week, KLU.