Thursday, 22 April 2021

Berenice Bobs Her Hair

 You'd better turn your lights off to best view the photos in this post (except for the final two)...

 Yes, it's back to snaps of the stars courtesy of my paparazzi telephoto lens "Starry Night" setting on Camera.  I can tell that you're all just thrilled!  After all, we haven't had one of these since mid-February's Blogorati Stars post.  And this post features brand new photos taken from Hexenhäusli Device's backgarden on 7th April!  How we spoil you.

 Actually, I don't really know what I'm doing with these photos.  I started off with an attempt to get the constellation of Camelopardalis looking more like a giraffe (for that it what it's supposed to be) rather than a clothes horse (which is what it looks like in my Universe book - and pretty much everywhere else).  I think I was relatively successful?  Then I had a go at Cassiopeia and Perseus, but gave up with Auriga as I couldn't stop giving him (although I think he looks like a her in the book) a fat bottom.

 After I'd given up on trying to make the consellations look more like what they are, I started labelling stars with their International Astronomical Union approved names and Bayer designations.  However, I soon got annoyed because poor Camelopardalis only has two named stars: one of which isn't in the photo (Tonatiuh, or HD 104985, is the tip of the giraffe's nose), and the other, Mago (hello, Mago!) is - like 'Petra - too dim to be seen with the naked eye/Camera (but I marked it on the image below anyway).

 All the marked stars in the image above have names except those in the constellation Camelopardalis.  I did add all the names, but it just became a clutter of squiggles, so here is list in case you have nothing better to do than match them up (like me):

 Auriga: α (Alpha) - Capella,  β (Beta) - Menkalinan,  ε (Epsilon) - Almaaz,
ζ (Zeta) - Saclateni, η (Eta) - Haedus,  θ (Theta) - Mahassim,  ι (Iota) - Hassaleh
 Perseus: α - Mirfak,  β - Algol,  η - Miram,  κ (Kappa) - Misam,  ξ (Xi) - Menkib,
ο (Omicron) - Atik
 Cassiopeia: α - Schedar,  β - Caph,  δ (Delta) - Ruchbah,  ε - Segin,  ζ - Fulu,
η - Achird,  υ² (Upsilon) - Castula


 Having got over the annoyance of Camelopardalis being a minor constellation, I turned my attention to two more less well known constellations: Canes Venatici and Coma Berenices - and the following little ditty from The Divine Comedy: Bernice Bobs Her Hair (which is based on the book of the same name), the title character of which is named after Queen Berenice II of Egypt who cut off her hair as a votive offering to ensure that her husband returned safely from battle.  The gods placed Berenices hair in the heavens and it became the constellation Coma Berenices.

 Both these constellations are rather pathetically depicted: Canes Venatici as a line between its two major stars, Cor Caroli and Chara; and Coma Berenices as two lines connecting its three major stars, converging at a right angle.  So, as with Camelopardalis, I used the other stars in their constellations' to make them a bit more interesting:


 In the lower left corner of the original, pre-cropped Canes Venatici / Coma Berenices photo, what should I notice but a trail of lights coming from Nusakan (Beta Coronae Borealis) and heading past 16 & 17 Draconis.  After checking with air traffic control at Northrepps International Aerodrome, I've narrowed it down to either the Nightship (which would explain the smell I experienced while out taking these photos - I thought it was chicken muck that had been spread on the fields) or Brittaline deTarfth on her ancient Electrolux Model 30...


 And in other slightly less nerdy news, this morning saw the first flower from the batch of Ipomoea purpurea "Kniola's Black" seedlings that I grew from a very exclusive Delargo Seeds collection:

 The poor thing doesn't know whether its coming or going, and got a bit frazzled around the edges (as you can tell by the state of some of the leaves), after an outing to the paysho table on a hot sunny day with a bitterly cold breeze, then back to my North-facing work-room window sill that night, into the red greenhouse for a bit the following day, a retreat to the South-facing kitchen window sill, and then an in-out-in-out between the kitchen and paysho for the last few days.


  1. Ill just enjoy your morning glory!

    I took a course in astrology in high school and still can't find anything in the sky except the big and little dippers. Id rather just lay back on your grass with you and you use a laser pointer to show me such things.

    1. "Lay back on your grass..." I get the impression that you may have some experience in such matters?

  2. Proper budding Sir Patrick Moore, aren't you? I assume your telescope's erected for tonight's meteor shower..?

    As for your Morning Glory - that's impressively early! Ours are weeks away from flowering yet. Jx

    1. I missed the Lyrids - I couldn't be bothered to put my contact lenses in and go out after 9pm.

      That Morning Glory has another flower due to open any minute now (it was tucked away at the bottom of the greenhouse which is why it isn't already open - I've just moved it into the light!). It's the first seedling that sprouted, but the others are showing little flower buds too.

  3. I like the first line drawing of Perseus, it looks like a derpy running stick dog. My knowledge of stars are limited as I use them only for the purpose of navigation. Even this is limited to the current Polaris and dippers, and Ursula minor as these are my "home" stars. It does look like a small galaxy is peeking out of your morning glory though. I do tend to favor the purple and dark red flowers in my yard. The lilacs are on the edge of bursting here.

    1. Perseus is one of my favourite constellations - for its looks, anyway. And I can see what you mean about the running dog. Shame Canes Venatici doesn't look more like it.

      I go for purple, white and blue, too. I love red, but my stupid colourblind eyes have a hard time picking it out from all the green.

  4. Berenice is my favorite character in the Divine Comedy. It takes real spunk to bob ones hair in hell surrounded by naughty popes.
    Are you trying to finish off your Kniola's Black with continual perambulations? Would you like me to come and cock my leg on it as well?
    Surely if you want a companion a teddy bear would be better.

    1. Unless I do swap it for a teddy bear, I'd rather you didn't cock your leg upon my Kniola's Black. At least, not while we're getting on so well.

  5. It snowed here, all day yesterday and the day before. Thankfully, the tulips and daffodils are hardy but anything else bit the dust.

    I shall indulge my flowery fantasies in your morning glories.

    1. Oh, dear. More snow?! I'll count myself lucky that it's just a bit cooler than usual for this time of year here, then. I hope your garden gets a good long growing season once this snow has disappeared.

      I shall do everything I can to ensure my morning glory puts on a good show for you!

  6. I think we are all a bit frazzled around the edges.
    You would love it here as there is limited light pollution, and I've done my neck in a couple of times being overwhelmed from looking at the stars - you honestly wouldn't believe what's really up there! Trust me, there really are cloaked star ships - when there are so many stars you can make out dark shapes amongst them and imagine all sorts.

    1. Once it gets a bit warmer (soon, I hope), I'm going to go up Madam's Lane (or maybe Tolls Hill) and have a good old look at the stars. There are too many trees and houses around Hexenhausli Device to see any but those that are pretty much straight up.
      If I'm lucky, perhaps a Romulan might uncloak before me!

  7. Wow that is very early for "Kniola's Black".
    We are doing the 'Hokey Cokey' with our seedlings too.
    In, out, in, out
    You shake it all about… The weather goes from one extreme to to other.
    Jolly little tune by the way. I enjoyed that.

    1. I'm glad you liked the music. It does sound quite jolly, but isn't my favourite DC tune - that would be something like "Come Home Billy Bird" or "An English Lady of a Certain Age".

      I'm wondering whether to nip off the flower buds from some of the Ipomoeas so they put that energy into growing some more leaves and branching shoots for later in the season?

    2. So not Norman and Norma, the only song in existence to rhyme Cromer" with "double pneumonia"..? Jx

    3. Oh, I haven't listened to Norman and Norma for ages! I'll put it on now...

      (And pneumonia is likely what with this "weather" we've been getting lately)

  8. Anonymous26/4/21 17:35

    Goodness, this Kniola gets around, from that window sill over there to that greenhouse .... nice flowers they are.
    Regarding all these tiny white dots - it may sound silly or plain stupid, but can not be there an online ressource that helps to identify what one sees on a snap ?
    I mean, we face billions of white dots over head, and we - mankind, or at least the part of mankind who is seriously interested in this - try to kinda sort all this. So all we have here are manmade rules, descriptions, angles, grades of shinyness etcet.pp.
    This must be a nerd's (is "nerd" correct ? Sorry if it is a bad word.) wet dream, a description of all above - it screams for computer-based description, database, knowledgebase, how ever you describe it : Why should it not be possible to have an image, something from camera, taken at a defined location, perhaps up in a defined angle, and some computer may say / answer the question what is visible ?
    I know it is a bit against what you are doing, taking out the fun of identifying things by yerself by using your own "Hirnschmalz", but would that not be a useful tool ?
    I am sorry IDV, I am just a bloody layman when it comes to celestical mechanics, it is all about triangles and mathematics. And believe me, I am very proud that you made me a star - so my intention is in no way to dimish, lessen or derogate your work - I am just now hit by the idea that there should / could be a kind of tool. Can it ? Do you have one of those planetaria near you? You just need to prick a tiny hole into that black cardboard ...

    The idea is hopefully clearly expressed, there should really be some kind of online tool - NASA where are you ?

    Mago (originally from 23/04/21)

    1. Oh, there are plenty of online starmaps and tools for identifying which white dot is what, and what that one over there is, and why that big red one keeps getting larger and brighter... I use the Online Planetarium at and Wikipedia (as well as my trusty Universe book), but for those with modern phones (which I don’t have) there are apps that tell you what’s what when you point it at the sky (this Stellarium has one). In fact, when I do eventually get around to replacing phone, I’m going to get a starmap/planetarium app for it.
      But, as you say, I do find it satisfying to work out which dot is which on my photographs by poring through diagrams and star lists on Wiki, and scouring the constellations in my Universe book.
      I wish there was a planetarium around here, but the nearest appears to be in Cambridge about 100 miles away. I’m going to have to make do with going out into the garden, or up Madam’s Lane at night and looking at the real thing - but without any helpful commentary or visual aids.


Tickle my fancy, why don't you?