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Betelgeuse in Orion

The Night Sky has changed!

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Neil Wyatt17/01/2020 22:07:18
17361 forum posts
690 photos
77 articles

We all tend to think of the naked-eye night sky as unchanging, aside from the rare visit of a large comet and the steady passage of the planets. In act many stars are 'variable' but it can take some effort to detect the changes.

Recently, however, there has been a dramatic change which is easy to see.

If you are familiar with the constellation Orion, pop out on one of the clear nights expected this weekend and look for the yellowish star at top left (bottom right Aussies!)

This is Betelgeuse and we are used to it being one of the brightest stars in the sky but it has rapidly faded.

Between October 31st and December 31st it went from 10th brightest to 21st brightest, and it has continued to fade since this article was written:

It's not unprecedented, but it's about a century since it was last this faint.

Betelguese is expected to go supernova some time in the next one or two hundred thousand years but there's only an outside chance it could go pop soon (or has gone and the flash hasn't reached us!)

If it does go it could be as bright as the moon for an extended period, but no danger to life on Earth.


JA17/01/2020 22:34:36
874 forum posts
49 photos

Thanks Neil.

I will watch, I have yet to see a supernova. I guess it is one up from a solar total eclipse which I have seen.


Peter Spink18/01/2020 00:33:55
74 forum posts
17 photos

That's what I think is great about this forum - the diversity!


Meunier18/01/2020 19:30:04
297 forum posts
1 photos
Posted by Peter Spink on 18/01/2020 00:33:55:

That's what I think is great about this forum - the diversity!



Bill Chugg18/01/2020 20:26:36
1271 forum posts
8 photos

Neil. I have to say this is all very interesting.

Not had the slightest interest in the sky at night until I read your thread.

Now doing a google on Orion.

Thank you for sharing.


Mick B118/01/2020 21:48:00
1436 forum posts
77 photos
Posted by Neil Wyatt on 17/01/2020 22:07:18:


If it does go it could be as bright as the moon for an extended period, but no danger to life on Earth.


No risk of a gamma ray burst, then? Though I thought those were focussed in a cone not many degrees wide...

Roderick Jenkins18/01/2020 23:19:34
1824 forum posts
463 photos

After 4.2 x 10^15 miles the base of the cone will have a considerable area...


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