What Is This Star Constellation?

Thread Starter

Glenn Holland

Joined Dec 26, 2014
705
Last night around 2:00 AM San Francisco time, I noticed a small star constellation in the upper north eastern sky that has three bright stars shaped like a triangle.

It is about the size of my thumbnail held at arm's length and on first glance, I thought it was the lights on an aircraft. However, it didn't move much and I knew it was actually a star formation. I've been out at night 1000s of times in my life, but I've never seen this constellation before. I would have taken a photo, but it's too dim for the lens on a phone and I would need binoculars or a telescope to get a clear image.

if the sky is clear where you live, just look at the northeastern sky and you will see it.
 

MrChips

Joined Oct 2, 2009
22,075
Depending on the darkness of your night sky, I am going to guess that you were looking at Cassiopeia.
Usually, this would appear as a W in the sky.

Three stars are brighter than the other two.

Cassiopeia.jpg

We could get a better fix if you can provide better position coordinates: altitude, azimuth
 

Thread Starter

Glenn Holland

Joined Dec 26, 2014
705
That might be it and I will check again tonight.

Interestingly, the atmospheric optics over San Francisco Bay might be magnifying this formation and that's why it suddenly appeared.
 

Thread Starter

Glenn Holland

Joined Dec 26, 2014
705
I found out that this "constellation" is actually Jupiter and my eye sight is actually distorting it from a bright point of light to something that looks like a six pointed star with different colors.

The same thing's happening with Venus. I'm also seeing distant street lights the same way. if I close my left eye, the image through my right eye looks like a fireworks burst.
 

Thread Starter

Glenn Holland

Joined Dec 26, 2014
705
Darn!!! I thought I had made a new celestial discovery and I would be listed in the Astronomer's Hall Of Fame.
 
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Thread Starter

Glenn Holland

Joined Dec 26, 2014
705
Giving some thought to my experience with the false and illusory appearance of objects in the night sky, I'm wondering if early astronomers had the same problem with their personal visual perception VS real images. however, today, we have machine processing of images which eliminates any perception due to human error.

On another interesting note pertaining to early astronomy, sunspots were thought to be just smudges on the lens of the telescope instead of a phenomenon in space or on the sun itself. However, when other observers reported the same problem, they accepted that sunspots were real.
 

MrAl

Joined Jun 17, 2014
7,849
Giving some thought to my experience with the false and illusory appearance of objects in the night sky, I'm wondering if early astronomers had the same problem with their personal visual perception VS real images. however, today, we have machine processing of images which eliminates any perception due to human error.

On another interesting note pertaining to early astronomy, sunspots were thought to be just smudges on the lens of the telescope instead of a phenomenon in space or on the sun itself. However, when other observers reported the same problem, they accepted that sunspots were real.
Hi,

I would think they would be able to tell if their personal vision was affecting the view because they would experience the same phenomenon when they look at other bright objects too such as the flame of a single candle. They'd have to believe it was several candles otherwise.
 

prophoss

Joined Feb 26, 2019
36
Giving some thought to my experience with the false and illusory appearance of objects in the night sky, I'm wondering if early astronomers had the same problem with their personal visual perception VS real images. however, today, we have machine processing of images which eliminates any perception due to human error.

On another interesting note pertaining to early astronomy, sunspots were thought to be just smudges on the lens of the telescope instead of a phenomenon in space or on the sun itself. However, when other observers reported the same problem, they accepted that sunspots were real.
I wanted to provide you this link https://www.assa.org.au/resources/sky-watching/seeing/
that talks about "seeing" in an astronomical sense. There are so many things that can effect how you see things while star gazing.
 
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