Thursday, August 23, 2012

Star Gazers: Betelgeuse My Favorite Star in the Sky...What's Yours?

I have always been a star gazer, I can't seem to go out into a clear night sky without  tilting my head back and taking in the starry sky. I can't think of too many things as beautiful. At a young age I learned to spot the easier recognised constellations like the Big Dipper and Orion the Hunter. Soon I learned the names of many of the stars that make them up. Even to this day for some reason when I go out at night I am always being drawn to seek out and spot Betelgeuse in the sky.
Not only is it an ancient star, it is a giant of a star many times larger than the sun. Betelguese is also a red giant, meaning that it is destined to explode into a Nova...It could happen anytime in the next million years! Or it could have already happened and the light from the event has yet to make it to the Earth. Betelguese is 600 light years away, if it exploded around the time of Columbus we would get to see it in this century. Man! What a sight that would be! Orion's left shoulder blazing into one of the brightest things in the Galaxy! The night sky would be so exciting,for a few nights anyway.
Click Hubble image of  Betelguese for much more on the fastinating star
Betelgeuse, also known by its Bayer designation Alpha Orionis (α Orionis, α Ori), is the eighth brightest star in the night sky and second brightest star in the constellation of Orion, outshining Rigel (Beta Orionis) only rarely. Distinctly reddish-tinted, it is a semi regular variable star whose apparent magnitude varies between 0.2 and 1.2, the widest range of any first magnitude star. The star marks the upper right vertex of the Winter Triangle asterism and the center of the Winter Hexagon.
Click image of Orion constelation
Beletguese is shining red at the upper left shoulder of Orion

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