Column

Constellation of the month: The Great Swan in the sky

David Bumgartner writes about his personal connection with the constellation Cygnus.

The star Deneb means “tail” in Arabic, and it represents the tail in the constellation Cygnus (which is Latin for “swan”).  The swan has a long neck, stretched out as he flies down the middle of the Milky Way. The two stars forming the wings give a cross shape, and that is why it is sometimes called the “Northern Cross.”

The star at the swan’s head is called Albireo. This is one of the most beautiful double stars in the sky, because the colors of the stars contrast so well, one blue, the other yellow, revolving around one another. Can you imagine two Suns in our sky? Probably wouldn’t have too many dark nights.

Cygnus is another one of my favorite constellations, not just because it has some of the most gorgeous objects to view, but I guess it is because in the past I raised swans, real ones, right next to my own observatory, named “Cygnus” all in my back yard. We lived just south of Hollister on 16 acres of walnuts. In time it got to be too much to handle and we down-sized and moved into town, light pollution and all, no room for Swans. Not my cup of tea. But sometimes you do what you have to do.

Just before we left our beloved 16 acres, I had a party of 25 come over and enjoy the night skies together in my back yard. The lucky bidder on my donated prize for the United Way’s live auction invited his best 25 friends. They all showed up together, and I noticed right away that everyone was having a great time. I mean, a really great time. And I was thinking then; boy I sure know how to put on a party. It wasn’t long after that when I learned they all had a little party of their own, just before coming out to my place.  I might add that I was not invited. Just as well though, I don’t think I could have successfully finished my presentation of the skies if I had partaken of the uninvited festivities.

But I must admit, everyone seemed to have a great time, as I was worried there for a while that they may never leave. But that is where the fun is for me, when visitors enjoy themselves so much that they don’t want to leave my back yard. And that is just fine with me, no matter what the reason. I’m just not sure if alcohol and astronomy go that well together. It was a very enjoyable evening though. Good people. (You know who you are.)

O.K. get out those dusty old telescopes and point them to the sky and see what you can find. See if you can locate the Summer Triangle, not too hard. Don’t forget family and friends, when you do.  You don’t have to worry about what you and your friends are looking at; the sky is perfectly capable of speaking for itself.

Clear skies!

What to watch for the rest of September:

Sep 16: Moon passes 4 degrees south of Saturn

Sep 18: Moon passes 4 degrees south of Jupiter

Sep 20: Moon passes 4 degrees south of Neptune

Sep 20: Full Moon

Sep 22: Autumnal equinox occurs. Get ready for Fall and Winter.

Sep 24: Moon passes 1.3 degrees south of Uranus

Sep 26: Moon is at apogee (251,432mles from Earth)

Sep 28: Last Quarter Moon

 

David Baumgartner

I am a local fella. Local schools from Fremont, Sacred Heart, Santa Anita, Hollister High, to San Benito Jr. College (Now Gavilan). Then joined the US Air Force where I specialized in Airborne Radar. Married my high school sweetheart JoAnne., shortly after three children arrived; Cindi, Michael, and Lisa. Somehow we ended up with nine Grandchildren.  Went on to San Luis Obispo, Questa, Colleges, and on to Univ. of New Mexico. Came back to Hollister. Opened up Three Pet Stores; Dave's Aquarium Pets & Supplies in SLO, Watsonville, and Hollister. The family spent two and a half years running a ranch up in Oregon. Made our way back to Hollister.  Got my Real Estate License in 1982, opened my own office in 93'. In the mean time raised Swans and revitalized my old hobby of Astronomy.  In 2001 I was named Chamber of Commence Man of the Year. I think I was the only one nominated. I don't care, I'm taking it. In December of 2018 I retired. Not sure if I was forced out or not. None the less, I am retired and I think it was time. Now the last thing I have to do is buy a coffin. I hear COSCO sells them now. But the only drawback is; you have to buy them in lots of six.  I guess I could buy them for the whole family. Not that funny, but thrifty.