(THE ORIGINAL RANCH)
LAKEWOOD, NEW MEXICO
The Night Sky at The Ranch
One of the most pleasant natural experiences at The Ranch is the chance to observe the night sky. Being on the desert away from city lights allows us to see some the more faint objects in the sky and our galaxy, the Milky Way, stands out clearly. We have added monthly sky maps to aid you in the identification of other elements of the night sky to increase your enjoyment.
The following sky maps are for stars of magnitude 5.5 or brighter on the 15th of each month at 9 pm. If you desire a map for a different day or time, you can obtain them online at several Websites such as SkyMaps.Com or Your Sky. Click on the thumbnail image below to enlarge then use your back button to return.
The sky maps include the locations of the planets. Check out information about the planets by clicking here.
Originally, the word "nebula" referred to almost any extended astronomical object (other than planets and comets). The etymological root of "nebula" means "cloud". As is usual in astronomy, the old terminology survives in modern usage in sometimes confusing ways. We sometimes use the word "nebula" to refer to galaxies, various types of star clusters and various kinds of interstellar dust/gas clouds. More strictly speaking, the word "nebula" should be reserved for gas and dust clouds and not for groups of stars.
Take a look at some nebulae to be found in our sky by clicking here.
You need to remember that the Constellations are not real. They are totally imaginary things that poets, farmers and astronomers have made up over the past 6,000 years and probably even more! Constellations have been documented in many different forms, such as pottery, coins, and other items dating back to 4000 B.C. The Greek poet Aratus of Soli gave a verse description of 44 constellations in his Phaenomena. The Greek astronomer and mathematician Ptolemy, in his Almagest, described 48 constellations, of which 47 are known today by the same name.
The real purpose for the constellations is to help us tell which stars are which, nothing more. On a really dark night, you can see about 1000 to 1500 stars. Trying to tell which is which is hard. The constellations help by breaking up the sky into more manageable bits. They are used as mnemonics, or memory aids. For example, if you spot three bright stars in a row in the winter evening, you might realize, "Oh! That's part of Orion!" Suddenly, the rest of the constellation falls into place and you can declare: "There's Betelgeuse in Orion's left shoulder and Rigel is his foot." And once you recognize Orion, you can remember that Orion's Hunting Dogs are always nearby. Then you might recognize the two bright stars in the upper and lower left of the photograph as Procyon in Canis Minor and Sirius in Canis Major, respectively.
The constellations have changed over time. In our modern world, many of the constellations have been redefined so now every star in the sky is in exactly one constellation. In 1929, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) adopted official constellation boundaries that defined the 88 official constellations that exist today.
Alphabetical listing of constellations
The following is an alphabetical listing of the 88 constellations in our sky along with their abbreviations. Click here for more information on the constellations.