Proper Motion of Selected Stars within the Rosette Nebula Region (over 50 years)

Proper Motion within the Rosette Region
All Images Copyright Steve Cannistra

Please click here for a close up and details of GSC 154:1343 and GSC 154:381.
Please click here for a close up and details of GSC 154:2364 and GSC 154:242.
Please click here for a close up and details of GSC 154:777.
Please click here to return to Rosette Nebula page.

This is a two frame movie comparing my recent image of the Rosette Nebula with that of the POSS1 sky survey from the mid 1950's (a useful article describing the POSS may be found here).  All stars are moving at fast speeds relative to one another, but it is difficult to appreciate this motion given the vast distances that separate individual stars.  Such motion is called "proper motion" (to distinguish it from sources of "improper motion" such as parallax and precession) and is easy to appreciate for stars that are quite close to earth, such as Barnard's star, which moves at a speed of approximately 10.3 arcseconds per year.  For stars that are further away, it may take many decades or even millenia to appreciate this motion.  For instance, Edmund Halley first discovered proper motion of Sirius, Arcturus, and Aldebaran in 1718 by comparing his coordinates with those of Hipparchus obtained almost 2,000 years earlier!  The above motion of 5 selected stars is easily appreciated after 50 years, although it is still quite small by Barnard's star standards.  Please click on the above links for a close up of individual stars and additional details. 
Proper motion of stars will eventually cause the constellations to lose their familiar shapes.

Photographic Details:

Please click here for the original image and photographic details.

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