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Published: Sunday, April 21, 2013, 2:19 p.m.

Corvus the crow is modest, but still worth a look

Through the course of the year skies about 70 constellations adorn the Northwest sky.
There are great magnificent constellations like Orion the Hunter that's still hanging in the western evening sky or Ursa Major the Big Bear shining brightly upside down in the high northeast.
And then there are not so majestic ones like Corvus the crow. Actually it's really a poor excuse for constellation, but it's still one of my favorites because it's distinct and easy to find.
Just after evening twilight look for a lopsided trapezoid or diamond of moderately bright stars hanging a little above the southeastern horizon.
In the minds many early cultures that crooked diamond is suppose to be a crow.
There's also nothing really that astronomically significant about Corvus. Gienah, on the upper right corner is the brightest star in the stellar crow.
It appears to the naked eye as a single star, but in fact it's believed by most astronomers to be a binary star system, two stars revolving closely around each other about 165 light-years away. Just one light-year equals nearly 6 trillion miles.
If you have a medium to larger telescope you might get a look at the Antennae Galaxy, about 45 million light-years away. That's actually a merger of two clashing galaxies that have taken on heart shape.
It's called the Antennae because of two tidal tails that emerge from ends of the two galaxies. It's located just to the right of the Corvus trapezoid.
Through the ages crows have really gotten a bad rap but in truth they're one of the smartest birds around. This certainly is reflected in a lot of the mythology related to the constellation Corvus. In Norse mythology says the god Odin had a pair of crows named Hugin and Munin that were his eyes and ears
In Roman mythology, crows were the most respected birds on Earth, highly intelligent, beautiful songbirds with bright white feathers with gold trim.
Celestial hugging
This coming Thursday and Friday morning in the premorning twilight there'll be a nice conjunction in the low western sky between the full moon and the planet Saturn.
On Thursday morning the moon will be parked just to below Saturn and Friday morning our lunar neighbor will be just to the left of Saturn.
The ringed wonder of our solar system and our Earth are just about their closest approach to each other for 2013, separated by just under 820 million miles.
Even a small telescope you to clearly see the extensive ring system that stretches well over 120,000 miles in diameter.
Mike Lynch is an astronomer and professional broadcast meteorologist for WCCO Radio in Minneapolis and is author of "Stars, a Month by Month Tour of the Constellations." Check his website, www.lynchandthestars.com.
The Everett Astronomical Society: www.everettastro.org/.
Story tags » Star Gazing

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