Right Ascension

Technically, the angular distance of a celestial object east of the vernal equinox, measured in hours and minutes. Simply stated, one of the two coordinates (declination is the other) that let you find celestial objects by using a telescope's setting circles and a star chart or star atlas. If you face the north celestial pole, the stars will rise (ascend) on your right - hence the term "right ascension." The same point on the 360 degree celestial sphere passes overhead every 24 hours, making each hour of right ascension equal to 1/24th of a circle, or 15 degrees. Each degree of sky therefore moves past a stationary telescope in four minutes - a rapid rate when observing at high power.


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