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An astonishing conjunction of Ceres in Taurus – a brilliant almost double star

The celestial bodies orbiting our solar system often bring busy events. These exciting celestial bodies are also asteroids, of which Ceres was first discovered and the largest celestial body, now classified as a dwarf planet, writes Peter Nagy, astronomer at the Miklos Konkoli Theg Astronomical Institute/Svabje Observatory blog. .

The dwarf planet Ceres will line up with a star for a few days

Due to the moon’s apparent large diameter, it often obscures a single star during its celestial journey. This is less common for asteroids due to their apparent small diameter. It’s actually a good idea to get close to a relatively bright star.

Dwarf planet Ceres at launch of the Dawn spacecraftSource: NASA / JPL-Caltech / UCLA / MPS / DLR / IDA

During the celestial journey of Ceres, it is currently in the “neck” of the constellation Taurus, and in a month it will break towards its “horns”. Prior to that, however, it is still associated with its eight-strength star, marked HD 25836. Ceres approached the star on February 28 at 7 PM for about 7 minutes of Sagittarius. If we were only going to watch them tonight, we’d look like we’re seeing a double star.

Taurus constellation mapSource: Wikimedia Commons / Torsten Bronger

Our couple meeting will look like a double star, but it really isn’t. If two (or more) stars are not connected to each other by gravity,

And they appear only from Earth on the side as celestial bodies, we call them photonic binary stars.

Due to the large distance between the dwarf planet Ceres (1) and the star HD 25836, we can talk about an optical binary star at most, but due to the dwarf planet Ceres (1), this constellation does not even deserve this title . The phenomenon of close coexistence, on the other hand, deserves more than that.

Ceres and Moon scale image (1).Source: https://www.svabhegyicsillagvizsgalo.hu/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/1.%C3%A1bra_Ceres__Moon_size_comparison.png

HD 25836, the temporary “analog” of Ceres

We’ve written about Ceres many times before, but what tree is named for the true star component in our short-lived quasi-double star, HD 25836?

Usually, the brightest stars that can be seen with the naked eye were given a unique name (mostly from Arabic). Who has not heard of the stars Denb (magnitude 1.25), Sirius (magnitude -1.45), or Polaris, the pole star (magnitude 1.95)?

Sirius, the brightest star in the winter skySource: Wikimedia Commons / Mylostrom

It is also easy to remember the so-called Bayer notation of the star, which consists of a lowercase Greek letter (usually in order of brightness) and the Latin form possessed of the name of the constellation in which the star is located. Examples include alpha Canis Majoris (α CMa) or beta Persei (β Per).

After the invention of the telescope and especially satellite sky survey programs approx. We count more than 5000 stars.

These stars are usually named after the number they occupy in the current star catalog.

Of course, catalogs with more and more stars will record stars that were discovered in the past.

(1) Ceres-HD 25836 is a “double star” and its narrow environment.Source: https://www.svabhegyicsillagvizsgalo.hu/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/2.%C3%A1bra_ceres_hd25836_p%C3%A1ros_szukebb_kornyezete_stellarium.png

Thus, even our star, which is not yet known (it was not seen by Arab astronomers), could not have been given a beautiful and unique name. HD 25836, SAO 76456, HIP 19163 refers to the same celestial body, only in different star catalogs.

These are the catalogs of Henry Draper, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and Hipparcos, respectively. Do not be afraid of the many signs! For a long time, an amateur astronomer could handle two nominations, and even four catalogues.

Fake color shot of CeresSource: NASA / JPL-CalTech / UCLA / MPS / DLR / IDA

The star HD 25836 is located approximately 1,710 light-years away. Ceres, on the other hand, lies in the vicinity with an average distance of 21 light minutes from the sun. The star is orange according to the K2 . spectrum

You can expect life colder than the sun and a longer, quieter life from our central star.

This is why similar K-type stars are good candidates for finding a region in their environment that allows life to develop.

Observe the “binary star”

On the evening of February 28, it was worth waiting for the darkness, since we had the opportunity to observe the relatively faint celestial bodies after 7 pm. The 8.8-degree Cerest and the brighter 8.0-degree star HD 25836 can be conveniently accessed at the end of the telescope with an instrument with a lens diameter of at least 8 cm.

They approach each other at an angular distance of about 7 minutes, which will be much smaller, for example, the 12-minute separation distance of one of the most famous double stars, the Alcor – Mizar pair.

In the center is the star HD 25836.Source: https://www.svabhegyicsillagvizsgalo.hu/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/3.%C3%A1bra_hd25836_DSS_inStellarium_smaller.png

It is worth starting the search for the temporarily assembled pair in the open group of Miastyúk (M45, Pleiades), which are always beautiful and easy to identify with the naked eye, and then keep 4 degrees east, towards Aldebaran. Here we find the still quite bright star 37 Taurus (HD 25604), which is only a few diameters away from us, that is, about half a degree. Heading a little east, we find the slightly dimmer 39 Tau (HIP 19076) star with a magnitude of 5.9. From here, just 12 arc minutes later, the couple we’re looking for finally appear before us.

Environment (1) Ceres and its wider area on 28.02.202 at 19.13.Source: https://www.svabhegyicsillagvizsgalo.hu/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/4.%C3%A1bra_ceres_tagabb_kornyezet_2022.02.28_19-13.png

It can make our perception interesting and moving if we record the displacement of the dwarf planet relative to the fixed stars not only on February 28, but also a few days before and after it in the evening.

Moreover, after resting the bull, the movement of the dwarf planet can be observed in one night. By plotting the events on a perceptual map or perhaps recording them with a camera, it would be great to see the “double star” getting closer and closer to disintegration.

(Source: CSFK Konkoly-Thege Miklós Institute of Astronomy / Svábhegy Observatory)

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