‘LOOK UP! WHAT’S IN THE NIGHT SKY?’ BY GUEST COLUMNIST ROD CORTRIGHT
The red star Aldebaran is the fiery eye of the Bull in the constellation Taurus.
The constellation Taurus is currently located about 30 degrees above the eastern horizon around 7 p.m.
Aldebaran is an aging red giant star about 35 to 40 times the diameter of our Sun.
If Aldebaran were placed where the sun is now, its surface would extend almost to the orbit of Mercury.
It is calculated to be about 65 light years distance or about 360 trillion miles distance from us.
In visible light, it is about 150 times brighter than the Sun, although its surface temperature is lower (roughly 4000 kelvins compared to 5800 kelvins for our Sun).
Aldebaran is easy to find. As the image produced from the IPad app Go Sky Watch illustrates, it is part of a V-shaped star grouping that forms the face of the Bull.
You can also locate Aldebaran using the famous constellation Orion as a guide.
Simply locate the three stars of Orion’s Bel, then draw an imaginary line through the belt to the right.
The first bright star you come to will be Aldebaran with its distinctive reddish-orange glow.
Aldebaran is the 9th brightest star that can be seen from northern Michigan.
It is primarily a winter and spring star.
Until next time “clear skies”.
This month’s meeting of the Northern Michigan Astronomy Club will be held the evening of Jan. 14 at 7:30 p.m. in HESC room 311 on the campus of NCMC.
The topic will be a video entitled “400 Years of the Telescope” narrated by Neil DeGrasse Tyson.
We will also have a brief discussion on astrophotography.
All are welcome to attend.
Rod Cortright is an astrophotographer and vice-president of the Northern Michigan Astronomy Club.