Declination = degrees measured north or south of the celestial
- A measurement perpendicular to the celestial equator, above or
below it, is called Declination.
- Declination is measured in degrees.
Be sure to indicate + or - !
- What is the declination of the north celestial pole?
- What is the declination of the south celestial pole?
- What is the declination of any point on the celestial
- Use a celestial globe to determine the Declination (d) of the
following (remember to indicate + or - degrees):
- Mintaka, the top star in Orion's belt
- Sirius, in Canis Major the Big Dog
- Altair, in Aquila the Eagle
- The pointer star of the Big Dipper closest to Polaris
How can I tell whether a star or
constellation is ever visible from my location?
It's simple if you know your latitude
and the star's declination! For example, let's say your latitude is
40 degrees north, and you want to know if the brilliant star Canopus
declination -53 degrees south, is ever visible from your location.
Follow these steps:
- Subtract your latitude from 90 degrees. This result is your
Example: 90 - 40 = 50
The co-latitude of 40 degrees north is 50 degrees.
- To your co-latitude, add the declination of your
star/constellation. (Remember to treat southern declinations as
Example: 50 - 53 = -3
- If your co-latitude plus the declination of the star is
greater than zero, then it will rise above your horizon at least
sometime during the year.
Another way to think of this is if the sum of your latitude and
the absolute value of a southerly declination is less than 90, then
- Visible if: [(your latitude) + | southerly declination |
] < 90
Unfortunately, the example calculation shows that Canopus would
only peak above the horizon from a location south of 37 degrees north
latitude; to see it clearly one would have to travel to the southern
United States, around 30 degrees N.
Test your understanding:
If the celestial equator has an altitude of 55 degrees above the
south horizon at a location 35 degrees north terrestrial latitude,
then what is the most southerly declination visible from this