Time to look up!

Our first assignment was to GTFOutside and find something in the night sky. I had big plans to use my larger camera and long exposures over the weekend but alas I was struck with a terrible fever and going outside became a very bad idea.

So I resorted to ‘taking a quick snap’ with my phone on the only clear night that was left to me. The first trouble was of course finding something in the sky. With NYC’s light pollution and tall buildings everywhere it was tough to see more than one or two faint spots. The second trouble was when my phone told me to move back to improve focus, which was dumb; how can I move back from the sky?

There’s something there…

With the help of an app called “Sky Map” I an relatively confident the object I found is Vega. This is an overlay of what SKy Map showed me at the same angle:

Original faint spot circled in red.

It’s not a far stretch to imagine that Sky Map was off by a little and the spot we’re looking at is Lyrae and Vega.

A quick google search revealed Vega to be the second brightest star in the northern hemisphere. Since it was one of the few that I could actually see, this fact helps corroborate my assumption.

Vega has been extensively studied and we know a lot about it:

Right ascension  18h 36m 56.33635s[4]
Declination +38° 47′ 01.2802″[4]
Apparent magnitude (V) +0.026[5] (−0.02…+0.07[6])
Characteristics
Evolutionary stage Main sequence
Spectral type A0 Va[7]
U−B color index 0.00[8]
B−V color index 0.00[8]
Variable type Delta Scuti[6]
Astrometry
Radial velocity (Rv)−13.9 ± 0.9[9] km/s
Proper motion (μ) RA: 200.94[4] mas/yr
Dec.: 286.23[4] mas/yr
Parallax (π)130.23 ± 0.36[4] mas
Distance25.04 ± 0.07 ly
(7.68 ± 0.02 pc)
Absolute magnitude (MV)+0.582[10]
Details
Mass2.135 ± 0.074[11] M
Radius2.362 × 2.818[11] R
Luminosity40.12 ± 0.45[11] L
Surface gravity (log g)4.1 ± 0.1[12] cgs
Temperature9,602 ± 180
(8,152–10,060 K)K
Metallicity [Fe/H]−0.5[13] dex
Rotational velocity (v sin i)20.48 ± 0.11[11] km/s
Age455 ± 13[11] Myr

Table from Wikipedia