It’s been a while since we’ve had a good ol’ game of cosmic baseball, so let’s dig out the ball, bat, and gloves and head to that sandlot in the sky. If your childhood games were like ours, bases were objects of convenience making the diamond a bit catty-whompus. Home plate might have been a bare spot in the grass, first base an abandoned ant hill, and so forth.
In cosmic baseball we also make-do with what we’ve got. Our diamond is formed by four stars of decreasing brightness – an informal pattern called the Diamond of Virgo on some star charts.
For home plate we use the reddish Arcturus, the brightest star in the Northern Celestial Hemisphere, now high in the east, it’s easy to find using the Big Dipper high in the north. The three stars of the dipper’s handle form an arc which, continuing away from the dipper’s bowl, "arc to Arcturus" three fist-widths (held at arm’s length) away.
Continuing the arc another three fist-widths we come to bright bluish-white Spica which we use for 1
From there we make a left turn and go three and a half fist-widths to Denebola, our 2
Making another left turn, 3
We now need two more positions to round out our infield. For shortstop we have not a single star but the large Coma Berenices star cluster. Situated between 2
Well, that’s the infield of our cosmic baseball diamond. The outfield is composed of constellations which we’ll save for another time. But for now, "Batter up!"
Paul Derrick is an amateur astronomer who lives in Waco. Stargazer appears twice monthly. Paul’s website
www.stargazerpaul.com) contains an archive of past Stargazer columns, a schedule of his upcoming programs, star parties and classes, and other basic stargazing information. Contact him at
email@example.com or 254-723-6346 or 918 N. 30
st base. Facing south, Spica is to the lower right of Arcturus some four fist-widths above the horizon. nd base. Denebola, to Spica’s upper right, is now a little due south of straight overhead. (Don’t be confused by Saturn which currently happens to be between Spica and Denebola – it’s just passing through.)rd base is Cor Caroli three fist-widths from Denebola. Almost overhead and under the arc of the Big Dipper’s handle, Cor Caroli is the faintest of the diamond stars. Finally, we make one last left turn, go two and a half fist-widths, and we’ve circled the bases back to home plate (Arcturus).nd and 3rd bases (Denebola and Cor Caroli), it is most easily seen under dark non-urban skies. The pitcher’s mound is the star about as bright as Cor Caroli located near the center of the diamond. Since it has no common name, I call it Charlie Brown.th St., Waco, TX, 76707.