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  • Writer's pictureKGB

A Star Among Stars.

Updated: Jul 1, 2023

Betelgeuse (Alpha Orionis) is one of the better known stars in the constellation of Orion. This type of star is known as a red supergiant. Indeed, if our sun was replaced with Betelgeuse, it would engulf the orbit of Jupiter! Betelgeuse is around 590 light years away and seems to be a very semi irregular variable star varying between +0.0 and +1.6 magnitude. This makes it off and on about the 10th brightest star in the night sky.

Incredibly, the star appears to be less than 10 million years old, but seems to have evolved rapidly because of its large mass. It is expected to end it's evolution in a supernova explosion anytime within the next 100,000 years. Although, it's quite possible that the star has already gone supernova and of course we could see the light of the explosion anytime now. However, this is doubtful, but when it happens and if mankind is here to see it, the star will almost certainly be visible in the daytime.

Betelgeuse is of course, one of the most prominent stars in the winter months and it's orange red colour can be seen quite easily with the naked eye. This colour was noted by Ptolemy who was an astronomer and mathematician circa 100-170AD. Strangely though, three centuries before Ptolemy, Chinese astronomers observed and reported Betelgeuse as having a yellow colour. If these observations are accurate, this could suggest that the star was in a yellow supergiant phase around the beginning of the Christian era, a distinct possibility given current research into the complex stellar environment of this type of star.

In October 2019, Betelgeuse began to dim noticeably, and by mid-February 2020 it's brightness had dropped by a factor of approximately 3, from magnitude 0.5 to 1.7. This event sparked feverish observations and wild speculation that Betelgeuse was going to go supernova! Unfortunately, depending on your point of view, by the 22 February 2020, Betelgeuse stopped dimming and started to brighten again. Since then, further studies have suggested that occluding "large-grain circumstellar dust" may be the most likely explanation for the dimming of the star. What a let down!!

As always though, this star is well worth keeping an eye on. On ending this short post, I will leave you with this graphic that shows the comparative size of Betelgeuse and our Sun.

Ponder on this because it puts our so called important leaders and their pathetic squabbling over small matters into perspective. In other words, they are not and never have been BIG or important. Our place in this incredible universe is the real importance. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this post. Keep solid and believe in yourselves. KGB..

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