Betelgeuse,a star running on empty

As the Winter season slowly loosens it’s icy grip and the warmth of Spring approaches,we must prepare to say good night to our friends in the Orion constellation.It has been tough to enjoy Orions company this Winter season.As some of you have heard me say a few hundred times.We have had a record snowfall this season with almost 140 inches of the white stuff.Making this the snowiest winter in almost 100 years with more on the way.Have I mentioned “I hate snow”?!.Regardless,Spring is on it’s way and I can’t wait!. 😛

Like me,if you haven’t had too many chances to see this amazing Winter constellation.I would suggest making some hot cocoa,dress warmly and get out there before it is too late.You won’t be disappointed…I promise!!!!.

One of the many features of this amazing constellation is “The Great Orion nebula”which is a amateur astronomer favorite.Heh,mine included!.However their ARE other objects in this constellation that are sometimes left sitting on the sidelines,just waiting for their day to shine.One of the objects that I am talking about is the red super giant Betelgeuse.

Betelgeuse (sounds like beetle juice) is a star that is on it’s death bed and gasping for air.Although it is much cooler than the sun (why it is red in color) it is more than 1000 X larger.In fact,if Betelgeuse were placed at the center of our solar system,it’s atmosphere would extend beyond the orbit of Jupiter!!!.Yes….it is gigantic!!.It also varies in brightness over a course of years,which causes me to view it as a variable star?!.One other indication that it is nearing it’s death is because,it increases and decreases in size.Picture filling a balloon with air, letting some of the air out and then refilling with more air,except in Betelgeuse’s case the air is hydrogen.After a few hundred thousand years,Betelgeuse will have burned through all of it’s fuel causing it to explode as a super nova,making it the brightest star in the sky,second only to our sun!!.Which makes me wonder what the fate of our solar system will be?!.Space,beautiful to look at but,not very friendly!.

Image credit: Andrew


10 Responses to “Betelgeuse,a star running on empty”

  1. Hey Andrew, great shot of Betelgeuse. I love Orion, one of the reasons I got into astronomy, such a majestic site, got a few real good pics with the new camera, worth the price of admission just to get those shots.

  2. Thanks Bob,
    I agree about Orion.It is one of the objects in our sky that hooked me as well!.10 years ago,I never imagined that I could see the many wonders that I have.I always had the mind set that my observing would be limited to viewing planets,the moon and the occasional comet.How wrong I was !!!. My first sighting of Orion through my big scope was nothing short of a jaw dropping experience!!!.

  3. Hi Andrew,
    If you could only sell snow on eBay- sounds like you have the supply part whooped. As you haven’t had much activity since the eclipse. I did get out for a few nights during the Globe at Night effort but nothing substantial.
    Betelgeuse is a great sight and a handy landmark to tour the sky. I like when the passersby ask while they point to Betelgeuse “What is the Red One?”

  4. Hi Peter,it is real good to hear from you.This winter has been really bad!.My poor car has taken a beating from all of the snow and ice not to mention pot holes in the roads.Heh,I COULD make a fortune selling the snow on e-bay…..hmmmm?! 😛 .
    I must say the Globe at Night sounds like it was a good time!.Right now it is clear as a bell but,bad timing is preventing me from taking the scope out!.
    Betelgeuse certainly is a great sight.Had I paid attention to my exposure time from the image.It would have been interesting to see if their were any change in brightness from 2006.In the distant future,it is going to put on one heck of a show!!.

  5. Wow and I just dumb, I had always heard people say Beetle Juice but I never connected the with the Betelgeuse that I read about. Thanks for making me smarter!

    The Fool

  6. Heh,no worries!.Until a few years ago,I was pronouncing wrong as well 🙂 .

  7. Beekeeper’s Daughter Says:

    Betelgeuse – is that the star from the Hitchhiker’s Guide? 🙂
    I am very new to the sky watching, and Vega is my favorite because it jumps at me in the summer night when I put my binoculars toward it. It was the first star I recognized so I have this emotional attachment…

  8. 😉 Heh,well having never seen the Hitchhikers guide I just couldn’t say.
    Vega is a wonderful object to look at,especially during those warm summer nights.Everytime I look at it through my scope,I am reminded of the movie “Contact” and the VLA.
    Kind of funny how a celestial body can cause a emotional attachment.Mine I would say is Saturn.It was one of the first objects that I ever saw through a telescope that I received as a Christmas gift in 1977.

  9. thurmond e. Says:

    Can I see it during daylight hours? im in the northern hemishere, Charlotte, NC. I am new to astronomy and trying to align mt telescope, a meade lx200 classic 8″. thanks

    • Unfortunately no Thurmond 😦 !.Betelgeuse is a incredibly large star but,because of it’s visual brightness,our sun makes it all but invisible during the daylight hours.I live several hundred miles to your north in VT.So,it rises and sets with Orion during the Winter season.Your best time (under reasonably clear skies) of viewing it will be around 9-10 pm and will be almost directly over head in your neck of the woods!!.Just look for Orions sword (not belt) and it will almost point to it on the upper left.I might add that it will appear redish in color.While you are in the same area of sky,check out the Great Orion nebula which is the middle star located on the sword.It will appear as a bright fuzzy gray patch.Unlike photo’s that you have seen it will be gray in color due to the human eye not being sensitive enough to detect color in a faint object.
      If you want to see celestial objects during the day I would suggest looking for Venus which is VERY visible.I look for Venus almost everytime I am out and 9x out of 10 I can spot it with the naked eye.So far the earliest I have seen it this year is noon time.Be very careful Not to look for it when it is near the sun as you could go blind.
      Thank you for the comment and please come back if you have any other questions 🙂 .

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