Southerners, can you see the Big Dipper?

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  • Member since
    October, 2013
Southerners, can you see the Big Dipper?
Posted by siegmundm on Monday, November 04, 2013 12:13 PM

This question is addressed to all of you who live around 30 or 40 deg S latitude, e.g. Australia, South Africa, Argentina: can you see the Big Dipper where you live?

Greetings from Germany.

  • Member since
    October, 2007
Posted by Aratus on Monday, November 04, 2013 4:54 PM

We are a bit short of southern hemisphere members.

Aratus

Location:  North West Devon, UK

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Celestron Skymaster binoculars 15x70

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  • Member since
    August, 2004
Posted by stars4life on Tuesday, November 05, 2013 7:47 PM

siegmundm...

I was in Australia last year. Flew into Sydney, and went north to Cairns for the eclipse.

From Cairns I could not see the Big Dipper... Then again, I did not look too hard for that one.

I did get to see Orion do a hand stand however... which I thought was a neat trick. Stick out tongue

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  • Member since
    July, 2001
  • From: PA, USA, Earth Moderator
Posted by DaveMitsky on Wednesday, November 06, 2013 2:44 AM

It looks like the southern part of Ursa Major, including some of the stars comprising the Big Dipper such as Megrez, Alioth, Alcor-Mizar, and Alkaid, rises just above the horizon from 30 degrees south.

http://kvmagruder.net/bcp/sphere/d.htm

http://www.astro.wisc.edu/~dolan/constellations/constellations/Ursa_Major.html

Dave Mitsky

Sic itur ad astra!

Chance favors the prepared mind.

A man is a small thing, and the night is very large and full of wonders.

  • Member since
    October, 2007
Posted by Aratus on Wednesday, November 06, 2013 9:30 AM

As a rough guide, take away 90 from the declination of an object.  That gives the most southerly latitude that an object can be seen.   The lowest declination is Benetnash/Alkaid at 49 degrees North.   Take 90 from that and you get 41 degrees South.   To see the whole of the 'Dipper' you need to see the most northerly star, Dubhe at 61 degrees.   Take 90 from that and you get 29 degrees South.   So theoretically you need to be there or further north to see the whole of the 'Dipper'.   

Refraction of the atmosphere gives a little latitude on that figure (Pun intended!Smile)   It would also depend on having a flat northern horizon.

Aratus

Location:  North West Devon, UK

-------------------------------------------------

Celestron Nexstar8i (8" SCT).

Celestron Skymaster binoculars 15x70

Other:0.63 & 0.33 correctors. X2 & X4 barlow.

Imagers: Meade DSI & Celestron NexImage.  Canon EOS 550D

 

 

  • Member since
    August, 2004
Posted by stars4life on Thursday, November 07, 2013 5:00 PM

So I guess from Cairns I could have seen it had I looked north at the right time.

When I was west of Sydney I don't remember looking north at all, and from that loc it would have been a partial sighting at best.

  • Member since
    October, 2007
Posted by Aratus on Saturday, November 09, 2013 3:55 PM

It would depend on the time of the evening and the time of year.  Winter in the early morning, and Spring in the evening would be the best times.  

At Sydney just few of the 'dipper' stars are visible, and even then only 7 degrees or less above the horizon.   I imagine it is only a target for the enthusiast, especially the Alcor/Mizar double.

Aratus

Location:  North West Devon, UK

-------------------------------------------------

Celestron Nexstar8i (8" SCT).

Celestron Skymaster binoculars 15x70

Other:0.63 & 0.33 correctors. X2 & X4 barlow.

Imagers: Meade DSI & Celestron NexImage.  Canon EOS 550D

 

 

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  • Member since
    July, 2002
  • From: Texas
Posted by chipdatajeffB on Saturday, November 16, 2013 6:32 PM

Our Texas-based 3RF group has a sister group in Australia, based in Melbourne and assisted by members of the Astronomical Society of New South Wales.

They say they can see the whole of the Big Dipper asterism from Ayers Rock. Most of this group's observing is done in the vicinity of Coonabarabran, which bills itself as the "capital of Astronomy" in Australia. Each year the group hosts an astronomy vacation for up to 36 people, using 3RF volunteers and telescopes, near Coonabarabran at the Warrumbungles Mountain Inn. For more info on that trip, which is sold out already for 2014, see:

 

www.ozsky.org

You may also contact that group for general observing information for Australia.

The universe is not only stranger than we imagine, it's stranger than we CAN imagine. --- JBS Haldane

Come visit me at Comanche Springs Astronomy Campus (we're on Google Maps) in Texas.

www.3rf.org

  • Member since
    October, 2013
Posted by siegmundm on Thursday, November 21, 2013 6:53 AM

Oh finally, nice to see that one has been answered. This is sort of what I had calculated but had no idea how much the extinction would affect it. I suppose the Dipper is for the southerners what some of the obscure far-southern constellations are to us - strongly seasonal, heavily affected with extinction and light pollution...

Greetings from Germany.

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