One Year Until Indiana's First Night

On Friday, December 11, 2015, the one-year countdown begins until the 200th anniversary of Indiana's becoming a state in 1816--and its first night. Half of the state's history occurred between sunset and sunrise. To find Indiana's Bicentennial Star, look during the early winter months for the Great Square of Pegasus. The corner star Scheat, which rises and sets first and is near the front leg of the flying horse, is 200 light years away.

The stars will appear the same in 2016 as they appear now in 2015 and as they appeared 200 years ago. The moon on December 9, 2015, is nearly new and not visible. On the actual birthday in 2016, however, the moon will also be visible in the nighttime sky, shown below. More info and and a star finder is at Bicentennial Star.

If you want to launch the Indiana Bicentennial with celestial fireworks, look skyward for the Geminid meteor shower, which peaks Sunday and Monday nights (Dec. 13-14). Bob King offers solid advise with his Viewing Guide to the 2015 Geminid Meteor Shower. Last night around midnight I saw a meteor bisecting Andromeda, so perhaps a harbinger of good things to come. There's no moon to interfere. Enjoy a quiet moment under the starry firmament, and envision the night sky of 1816.

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