Home > Ephemeris Program, stars > 12/12/2013 – Ephemeris – The bright star Betelgeuse (Don’t say it three times)

12/12/2013 – Ephemeris – The bright star Betelgeuse (Don’t say it three times)

December 12, 2013

Ephemeris for Thursday, December 12th.  The sun will rise at 8:10.  It’ll be up for 8 hours and 52 minutes, setting at 5:02.   The moon, 3 days past first quarter, will set at 4:26 tomorrow morning.

The bright red star in the constellation Orion’s shoulder is Betelgeuse, and it’s about 643 light years away.  Despite its great distance, it is the star whose surface is easiest seen, after the sun of course.  That’s because it’s so big, maybe as large around as the orbit of Jupiter.  Its true diameter is hidden by the cloud of gas it’s expelling.  Betelgeuse varies in size and brightness, so its size varies by nearly 30 percent.  The Hubble telescope has sent back pictures of the star, and has found a bright spot, seen in ultraviolet light on what may be its surface.  It has a really hot core generating energy that pushes out its gaseous envelope to a great size.  Some astronomers think the Betelgeuse will become a supernova within a million years.

Times are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan.  They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Aldebaran

Aldebaran, the Hyades, of Taurus, Orion and the Pleiades at 10 p.m. December 12, 2013. Created using Stellarium.

Betelgeuse drawing

“This artist’s impression shows the supergiant star Betelgeuse as it was revealed thanks to different state-of-the-art techniques on ESO’s Very Large Telescope, which allowed two independent teams of astronomers to obtain the sharpest ever views of the supergiant star Betelgeuse. They show that the star has a vast plume of gas almost as large as our Solar System and a gigantic bubble boiling on its surface. These discoveries provide important clues to help explain how these mammoths shed material at such a tremendous rate. The scale in units of the radius of Betelgeuse as well as a comparison with the Solar System is also provided.” Credit: ESO/L. Calçada (ESO is the European Southern Observatory)

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