Home > Constellations, Ephemeris Program, Mythology, stars > 10/31/2014 – Ephemeris – The spookiest star

10/31/2014 – Ephemeris – The spookiest star

October 31, 2014

Ephemeris for Halloween, Friday, October 31st.  The sun will rise at 8:18.  It’ll be up for 10 hours and 13 minutes, setting at 6:32.   The moon, 1 day past first quarter, will set at 1:59 tomorrow morning.

Not all the ghosts and goblins out Sunday will be children.  One will be out every night, because it’s a star.  Its name is Algol, from the Arabic for Ghoul Star or Demon Star.  The Chinese had a name for it that meant “piled up corpses”.  It’s the second brightest star in the constellation Perseus the hero, rising in the northeast this evening.  The star is located where artists have drawn the severed head of Medusa, whom he had slain.  Medusa was so ugly that she turned all who gazed upon her to stone.  Algol is her still glittering eye.  Astronomers finally found out what was wrong with Algol.  It does a slow 6 hour wink every two days 21 hours, because it is two stars that eclipse each other.  Her next wink will be 10 p.m. Sunday night.

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

Addendum

Perseus and the head of Medusa from the 1690 Uranographia by Johannes Hevelius.

Perseus and the head of Medusa from the 1690 Uranographia by Johannes Hevelius. Image found with the article on Algol in Wikipedia.

Celestial globes of the day showed the celestial sphere from the outside, so the constellations appeared reversed.  The star atlases of the day kept the trend.  I reversed the image to correspond with the actual sky.

Algol at 7:30 p.m. on Halloween

Algol at 7:30 p.m. on Halloween, in a modern portrayal.  Created using Stellarium.

Update

Eclipsing Binary Star

Animation of an eclipsing binary star like Algol. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.  H/T EarthSky

Here’s a link to EarthSky’s post on Algol.

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  1. Kathy Pazienza
    November 1, 2014 at 11:42 am

    I need help…..I bought my husband a telescope awhile ago and we can not figure out how to put it together. The directions were limited and awful. Do you know of anyone who would put the telescope together for a fee? Please call at 231-944-9344 Thanks, Kathy

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