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10/30/2020 – Ephemeris – The spookiest star in the sky

October 30, 2020 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Friday, October 30th. Today the Sun will be up for 10 hours and 14 minutes, setting at 6:33, and it will rise tomorrow at 8:20. The Moon, 1 day before full, will set at 8:08 tomorrow morning.

With the COVID virus around probably the only spooky thing out tomorrow night will be the star Algol. It’s out every night actually. It’s name, Algol, is from the Arabic for Ghoul Star or Demon Star. The Chinese had a name for it that meant “piled up corpses”. It’s normally the second brightest star in the constellation Perseus the hero, visible 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 winking eye. The star got the name before astronomers found out what was wrong with it. They found out that it does a slow wink every two days, 21 hours. That’s because Algol is two stars that eclipse each other. Her next evening wink will be at its dimmest at 12:11 am November 13th. Remember, daylight time ends on Sunday.

The event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Algol at 7:30 p.m. on Halloween

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

Eclipsing Binary Star

Animation of an eclipsing binary star like Algol. Credit: Wikimedia Commons h/t Earth and Sky

Algol minima table

Algol Minima through November 24th 2020. Click on the image to enlarge. Eclipses are about 10 hours long with 5 hours of dimming and another 5 hours to regain brightness. Source: Insula Astra http://www.astropical.space/algol.php.