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October/November 2003 Star of the Month: Deneb

The star Deneb shines high overhead on October and November evenings, the easternmost star of the famed Summer Triangle bobbing in the stream of stars called the Milky Way. In fact, at 9 pm local daylight time on October 1 (and four minutes earlier each night thereafter), Deneb, the tail star of Cygnus the swan, reaches its highest point in the sky.

At this juncture, the star is on the meridian, and is in one of three places: due south, due north or at zenith (straight overhead). A star on the meridian always resides halfway between east and west.

Deneb lodges at just over 45 degrees north of the celestial equator. And Cornwall, Canada, sits equally distant from the Earth's equator, so whenever the star reaches Cornwall's meridian, it shines at zenith.

To the right, or west, of Deneb, you'll see the Summer Triangle's brightest star, Vega. At the same time that Deneb beams straight overhead in Cornwall, the star Vega shines at zenith at Guffey, Colorado.

The angular distance between Deneb and Vega enables you to figure how far it is between Cornwall and Guffey -- at least, as the crow flies. The angular distance is a touch less than 24 degrees. Since a degree represents a distance of 69.2 miles, 24 x 69.2 = 1660.8 miles.

copyright 2003 by Bruce McClure

October 2003 Feature: Halloween First Quarter Moon!