A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding
From: Frank Reed
Date: 2020 Dec 12, 19:15 -0800
After Alnair, my next deep south target was Gamma Velorum also known (not yet officially) as Regor. It's a star I have been wanting to track down and see for many years. Here's a little something I wrote about Regor and its friends ten years ago: Space-sextants-FrankReed-nov-2010-g14280. Coincidentally, that tenth lunars star, Dabih, also gets notice in that message.
Thursday night here was a rare thing in New England: a December night with nearly clear skies all night that wasn't too cold. I spent over an hour total outside during the night just doing a little binocular observing. And at 2:30 am local time, I went to my south-facing beach and caught Regor at meridian passage. I didn't bother to attempt measuring an altitude, though I could make out the horizon even that late at night. The calculated apparent altitude of Regor was only about 1.5° but it was plainly visible even without binoculars once I had identified it.
Many of us originally learned the constellations from the star charts in issues of Sky & Telescope magazine, which, even in this digital era, remains a premier resource for amateur and private-professional astronomy. Until they changed the design for something more beginner-friendly around 1994, the carefully-crafted deep blue charts in the middle of each issue were a treat to see every month. Those star charts listed the three Apollo stars, Regor, Ivan, and Dnoces, and it's a bit disappointing to see them dinged as inferior names in recent years. Good enough for the Apollo computer and good enough for decades of Sky & Telescope -- that's good enough for me.
In July 2019, I did a presentation for a library in central Connecticut on celestial navigation and Apollo moon mission navigation (hence the date). The organizers told me to expect "young people" for the event, so I tried to include some pop culture references. They were wrong about their demographics, and it was a typical celestial navigation audience, but I included my pop reference to Regor. It's from Seth MacFarlane's version of Star Trek which he calls The Orville. It's a modestly popular, weekly, light-hearted space opera. In one episode a crewmember announced they were receiving a primitive signal from a planet asking "is anyone out there?" and the signal was coming from "Gamma Velorum". When I heard that name, I thought "Oh, hey, that's Regor". And when they landed on the planet, the global leader greeted our enterprising explorers saying "Welcom to Regor!" I almost spilled my drink! Someone on the production team clearly knew the story and threw in the names as a little easter egg. Screen caps below.