Imminent supernova!


Betelgeuse is an old star that could explode any moment from the red super giant stage to supernova. The movie above is a simulation of what we could see when that happens. When it does explode, the people of Earth could have two months of continuous light. The star is a famous one among amateur astronomers not only for its size and brightness, but also because it is part of Orion, a bright winter constellation in the Northern Hemisphere. It easy to find as the top left shoulder or Orion

Professional astronomers also keep a close eye on the star, as it is notoriously variable: its diameter changes from anywhere between 550 to 920 times the sun’s diameter. In 2013, astronomers said Betelgeuse is likely to crash into a “cosmic wall” of interstellar dust in a few thousand years.

When astronomers say Betelgeuse is expected to explode soon, they mean shortly in astronomical terms: within a million years, according to several sources. Predicting exactly when it will turn into a supernova is difficult, however, as it depends on precise calculations of its mass as well as an understanding of what is going on inside the star.


Halley’s comet every year


Comet Hal­ley – the most famous of all comets – last vis­it­ed Earth in 1986. I remember lying on my bed and staring out my bedroom window at it. But even if you were not alive then, you can still see its effects. Every year at this time the earth moves through the trail of dust, ice, and rubble that the comet left behind. These strike Earth’s atmos­phere most fully around Octo­ber 20-22. As it strikes our atmos­phere and begins to fall to Earth, the cometary debris vapor­izes, leav­ing bright streaks across a dark night sky known to us as mete­ors or shoot­ing stars. Thus, every year at this time, as Earth pass­es through debris left behind by Comet Hal­ley, we on Earth see the Ori­on­id mete­or show­er.

In 2012, this show­er peaks on the morn­ing of Sun­day, Octo­ber 21. It should be pretty good this year as the waxing crescent moon should be set by midnight. Go have a look tonight, the comet itself will not be back until 2061.