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Effects of the precession


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As well known because of the precession the terrestrial axle stirs of around 50.27" every year, moving the line of the equinoxes of one degree in 71.6 years, or rather it completes a complete turn in about 25800 years.

Accordingly what we call Gamma Point, or Point of Aries, it is not fixed in that constellation, but it slowly stirs changing constellation.

The chart that follows shows the position of the various points of the equinoxes and the solstices during the centuries.


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This is something that has intrigued me too - in idle moments with clouds rolling by outside... :) ... play around a bit with Cartes du Ciel and see what it'll be like in 15,000 AD - just one half-cycle of precession away. As far as viewing from Britain is concerned: well, Scorpius and Sagittarius will dominate our winter (sic) skies, they'll be really high in the sky and the Milky Way will be glorious - if LP doesn't swamp it! Along with other constellations at present out of our reach, like Grus, Pavo and Telescopium. In autumn Crux will be clearly visible low in the south, but the familiar 'cross' pattern will be spoilt due to Alpha Centauri paying it a 'visit'. On the downside, we shall have lost Orion from our summer (sic!) skies, only Betelgeuse and Bellatrix will nudge above the horizon, as seen from southernmost UK: M42 will be invisible, and the Pleiades will be low and difficult.

All this is, of course, supposing that any of our remote descendants are still around to enjoy it! (*sgh*).

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Yes - just think: instead of folks on this forum (if this forum still exists :)) spending winter nights posting glorious images of M42 and the Horsehead, they'll be posting glorious images of M8 and M20 (well I suppose they already do - but even more splendid ones!). M13 will be an awkward target though: it'll lie quite close to the NCP and many present-day equatorial mounts will fall over. Ah well, I suppose the human race has got plenty of time to sort that one out!

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