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THIS WEEK - Try to find Achernar - if you are in or traveling to the Deep South

Tivydale, TX, United States
14 Kudos
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To continue with my Texas Stargazing Tour, I decided to post about a star that you might want to catch THIS WEEK before the waxing crescent moon interferes. Today, I will share a photograph and a story about the bright and beautiful star, Achernar.

Most Americans, Canadians, and Europeans have probably never heard of Achernar, let alone seen it. Achernar (pronounced AY-ker-nar) is the 9th brightest star in the sky, but it lies way south on the Celestial Sphere. It is so far south that it is not visible in Europe, Canada, or most of the United States for that matter. To have a good chance of seeing Achernar, you need to get down to about the 30th Parallel - ie 30 degrees north of the Equator. The 30th Parallel runs roughly through Tallahassee, Florida, Mobile, Alabama, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Austin, Texas, Shanghai, China and Cairo, Egypt. In these cities, Achernar will rise roughly 3 degrees above the horizon. The further south you get, the better you can see it. Achernar is so bright that it can be seen even when very low on the horizon (weather permitting). Thus, areas as far north as Tucson, Arizona, Shreveport, Louisiana, and Savannah, Georgia can (at least in theory) get a brief glimpse of Achernar. Viewers in the Southern Hemisphere can see Achernar high in the sky for much of the year. Lucky them.

If you want to see this star, the month of January is one of your best opportunities if you live in the Deep South of the United States. Look due south THIS WEEK between 6:30 and 7:00 PM. You will want binoculars because this star is very low on the horizon, even in South Texas and South Florida. BUT, it is extremely bright, so you should be able to see it if skies are clear.

This photograph was taken with a zoom lens. Thus, it makes Achernar look deceptively high in the sky. In reality, it was only about 3 degrees (about three finger-widths held at arms length) above the horizon.
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2 Comments

by Ed4000

01-09-2019

Cool story! Wish I was able to be down at the beach now, would be a great place to try to catch it!

by BelfryBat

01-09-2019

Yes, that would be perfect. I understand that there is a new observatory at Resaca del Palma State Park near Brownsville, Texas. It is on my bucket list. The Florida Keys would be a great place to view it as well.