#Betelgeuse Is Still There…for now.

I so wanted to write about this last week, but I needed some time to push aside my deeply desired “Cool! We might get to see Betelgeuse go supernova!” theme, in favor of “Ok, fine…science knows what they’re talking about when it comes to stellar evolution…even with a star as weird as Betelgeuse”.

Some place it at “100,000 years”, some place it at “1,000 years”, some place it at “face it, your life is just too short to care whichever it is”.

Photo compliments of Slooh Observatory, on Jan. 6th, 2020 at 00:47 UTC

The truth is, scientists can use Spectroscopy to analyze the elemental makeup of Betelgeuse and determine with a reasonable and very well earned degree of confidence that it just hasn’t burned enough fuel yet to collapse and explode. Once it does, that whole process would likely take longer than any of our lifetimes anyway.

Forget that scientists still don’t know for sure how far Betelgeuse is from Earth…and therefore cannot know its absolute magnitude with any degree of certainty.

Forget that scientists still don’t even know exactly how to measure it’s ever-changing size.

Forget that the closer they are able to look at it, the less spherical it appears.

Forget that several of the innovations for understanding stars have been used first on Betelgeuse because it’s measurements are just so danged hard to nail down.

Even with all that, short-lived Red Giant stars go on for 10-12 million years…so a half a percent margin of error (VERY generous even for our very competent stellar cosmologists) adds up to plus or minus 50,000 years!

So yes, Betelgeuse is the dimmest it has been in the hundred something years that we’ve been able to slap a number on its brightness.

But…and it pains me to say this…

So what?

I for one look up at the Constellation Orion at at least twice a day now, once in the night sky and once on my Slooh Observatory account. I watch and wait for Betelgeuse to brighten back up and yet I still hold out hope that it dims further…because dimmer is better if you want to witness an epic explosion. I walk away disappointed to see it still visible.

But as much as I want to, I can’t name a blog article “Betelgeuse Death Watch”.

Yet. 😉


~ by Bill Housley on January 6, 2020.

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