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Volume II: The Magickal Sky
Book 6: Major Fixed Stars and the Constellations
Part 3: Fixed Stars

Star: PLEIONE Constellation: 28 Taurus Longitude 1900: 28TAU59.Longitude 2000: 00GEM23. Declination 1900: +23.50’.Declination 2000: +24.07’. Right ascension: 03h49m.Latitude: +03.59’. Spectral class: B8.Magnitude: 5.1 Variable Suggested orb: 1 deg. Planetary influence: Like that of Moon and Mars together

History of the star: Mother of the Pleiades and Atlas’ first wife. Plein, ‘to sail’, making Pleione ‘sailing queen’ and her daughters ‘sailing ones.’ Ancient Greek sailors were cautioned to sail only during the months when the Pleiades were visible. Mythologically speaking, Atlas and Pleione are not Pleiades, but rather the parents of the Seven Sisters. But as Pleione was the mother of the seven sisters, it seems likely that it was from her name this title, Pleiades, originated. See Alcyone for interpretations. Influence of the constellation: By the Kabalists Taurus is associated with the Hebrew letter Aleph and the 1st Tarot Trump ‘The Juggler’ (Robson). References: The Fixed Stars and Constellations in Astrology, Vivian E. Robson (1923), Ascella Publications, UK, ISBN: 1 898503 50 8. Star Names, Their Lore and Meaning, Richard Hinchley Allen, 1889, Dover Publications 1963. ISBN 0-486-21079-0. Zeta Aurigae–Aging Supergiant and Tiny Hot Companion IMPORTANT NOTE:

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All paintings are protected by copyright (c). Permission for reproduction must be obtained in writing. Address requests to: Bonestell Space Art

Date: 1975 Bauder Catalog Reference: 254 Principal Subject: Stars Dimensions: 18’ x 22’ Medium: Oil on canvas board Museum Showings: Palo Alto Medical Clinic Publications: Notations: . Remarks regarding painting written on the back in pencil, ‘Zeta Aurigae. Like . Mira Ceti, Zeta Aurigae is composed of a giant red star and a smaller . blue-white companion star. This view is from a hypothetical plant about 900 . million miles away. The diameter of Zeta, the giant red star, is nearly equal . to the diameter of our earth’s orbit, which is about 180 million miles, and . the smaller star is only about 3 or 4 times the diameter of our sun (which is . about 900 thousand miles). ‘ Beta Lyrae is an eclipsing interacting binary star. Beta Lyrae is the prototype of this class of eclipsing binaries. Every 12.938 days it drops from 3.3 to 4.3 magnitude (the period evolve). The secondary minimum is about magnitude. 3.8. The primary star of this close binary is classified as a giant of type B7Ve and probably has about twice the mass of the Sun. The secondary star seems to be largely invisible even though it appears to be far more massive with about 12 times the Sun’s mass. The. secondary is probably concealed at least partially by a thick, opaque torus of matter orbiting and spiraling into it. Helium lines are very variables and this variations are related to phase. H  variability can presumable be explained by the fact that the secondary component (B-star with thick disc) is being covered by the B6 star and that only the continuum intensity is varying due to the eclipsing process.

Beta Lyrae is an eclipsing interacting binary star. Beta Lyrae is the prototype of this

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class of eclipsing binaries. Every 12.938 days it drops from 3.3 to 4.3 magnitude (the period evolve). The secondary minimum is about magnitude. 3.8. The primary star of this close binary is classified as a giant of type B7Ve and probably has about twice the mass of the Sun. The secondary star seems to be largely invisible even though it appears to be far more massive with about 12 times the Sun’s mass. The. secondary is probably concealed at least partially by a thick, opaque torus of matter orbiting and spiraling into it. Helium lines are very variables and this variations are related to phase. H variability can presumable be explained by the fact that the secondary component (B-star with thick disc) is being covered by the B6 star and that only the continuum intensity is varying due to the eclipsing process.

Beta Lyrae
All paintings are protected by copyright (c). Permission for reproduction must be obtained in writing. Address requests to: Bonestell Space Art Date: November, 1976 Bauder Catalog Reference: Principal Subject: Stars Dimensions: Medium: Oil on canvas Museum Showings: Palo Alto Medical Clinic Publications: Notations: • Remarks regarding content of painting written on the back in pencil: ‘Beta Lyrae seen from a hypothetical planet. The stars of this binary are so close to each other that there is a continuous exchange of mass, the smaller star losing mass which forms a spiral trail. This beautiful formation is unique in the universe, as far as is known to astronomers.’

Section 1: General Discussion xxx

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Section 2: The Astromythology and Psychospiritual Aspects of [Star/Constellation/Lunar Mansion] xxx

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Section 3: Correspondences Gods: Egyptian: Greek: Sumerian: Babylonian: Roman: Hindu: Szekeli (Romany Gypsy): Chinese: Japanese: Judaism: Christianity: Islam: Scandinavian: Russian: Hungarian: The French Enlightenment: Africa: Southeast Asia: Celtic: Polynesian: Native Australian: Eskimo: Central American: American Indian: American folklore: Science-fiction: The Land of Oz: Voudon: SubGenius: Discordianism: H. P. Lovecraft: Stephen King: LaVeyan Satanism: God-Name in Hebrew: World Religions: Archangel: Angelic Choir: Angel: Angels given by Barrett, et al.: Olympic Planetary Spirit: Intelligence: Spirit:

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Spirits given by Bardon, Barrett, et al.: Name of Planet in Hebrew: Commandment from Exodus: Ten Plagues of Egypt: Verses from Creation Story in Genesis: Cantos from the Inferno of Dante Alighieri:

Cantos from the Purgatorio of Dante Alighieri:

Cantos from the Paradiso of Dante Alighieri_:

Orders of Qlippoth: Qlipphotic Spirit (from Kenneth Grant): Article of Bill of Rights: General astrological classification:

General Qaballistic classification:

The general attributions of the Tarot:

Titles of Tarot Trump: Correct Design of Tarot Trump: Titles and Attributes of Court Cards: Titles and Attributes of Numbered Cards: Alchemical and Pythagorean Associations: Attributions from the I Ching and Taoist Cosmology: Attributions from Ninpo (Way of the Ninja, Way of Wisdom) and Shinto (Way of the Kami or Gods): Other Magickal Correspondences, according to Barrett, et. al:

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Day of the week ruled by [ ]: Geocentric: Heliocentric: Hours of the day ruled by [ ]: Geocentric: Heliocentric: Astrological month: Season: Grade of the Temple: Colors: Patterns: Forms, shapes, lineal figures, geomantic figures, figures related to pure number, and numerological associations: Magick Square: A m x m Magick Square (for numerical value of letter) A n x n Magick Square (for Key value) The Mystic Rose of 22 Petals (Regardie) The Mystic Rose of 116 Petals (extension of Mystic Rose of 22 Petals) Stones, gems, and metals:

Herbs and Trees: Animals and Other Organisms: Ecological domain or process: Legendary orders of being: Foods, drugs, flavors, and perfumes: Clothing, Magickal Weapons, and other objects, phenomena, and processes:

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Anatomy and physiology: Psychology: Diseases, dysfunctions, and pathologies: Occupations and ecological niches: Places, nations, and peoples: Planetary Age of Man: Matters of the horoscope: Music: Poetry: Books and other literary productions: Graphic arts: Sculpture: Film: Performance Art: Plays: Architecture: Saints and exemplars: American emblems, sigils, symbols, myth, folklore, and urban legend:

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To be collated and added as appropriate: MIRA. Mira, its very name telling us that we should take strong notice, Mira ‘the amazing one,’ the word coming from the same root as ‘miracle,’ Mira the only proper-named star in the sky that for a time is too faint to be seen with the naked eye. Few of the stars in its resident constellation Cetus, the Whale, are prominent; only the Alpha and Beta stars are of the second magnitude. Mira itself was relegated by Johannes Bayer to be the ‘Omicron’ (the 15th letter in the Greek alphabet) star. In 1572, Tycho Brahe studied a ‘new star’ so bright that for a time it was visible in daylight. Not new at all, Tycho’s star is now known to have been an old star that exploded and disappeared forever. Two dozen years later, David Fabricius thought he might have found another, though much fainter one, in Cetus. This star, however, returned, and has been doing so for over 400 years. Mira is the brightest of the red class M ‘long period variables,’ thousands of which are now known. Our star varies from about third magnitude (though sometimes it can reach second) way down to tenth, 40 or so times fainter than the human eye can see alone, and then back again over a 330 day period. As a result it is sometimes a part of its constellation, sometimes not. Mira, with a temperature just above 2000 degrees Kelvin, is one of the coolest stars in the sky. From its distance of 420 light years, we calculate an average luminosity (that includes invisible infrared radiation) 15,000 times that of the Sun. The star is approaching the last stages of its life. Long ago, the hydrogen fusion that powered its core ran out, and then the by- product of that fusion, helium, fused to carbon and oxygen, and now the helium has also run out. The result of these internal changes is a hugely distended, very luminous star that is double the size of the orbit of Mars. Hubble Space Telescope observations show that the star is so unstable that it is not even round. The light variations are caused by pulsation, changes in size that also affect the star’s temperature. Mira’s great size and instability promote a wind that will soon blow away its outer envelope, the inner nuclear burning portions condensing into a burnt-out ‘white dwarf,’ a tiny star the size of Earth, the rest of the star lost to interstellar space. These long period variables help enrich the interstellar gases, out of which new stars condense, with chemical elements formed in their nuclear cauldrons. Most of the carbon in the Universe seems to have come from them. Mira has a white dwarf companion to which all these events have already happened. Many billions of years from now, the same will happen to our Sun. DENEB (Alpha Cygni). One of the truly great stars of our Galaxy, Deneb serves a three-fold role among the constellations. Its very name tells the first. ‘Deneb’ is from an Arabic word meaning ‘tail,’ as this first magnitude (1.25) star, the 19th brightest as it appears in our sky, represents the tail of Cygnus the Swan, a classical figure seen flying perpetually to the south along the route of the Milky Way. As the constellation’s luminary, the star is also Alpha Cygni. The reversal of Cygnus makes the asterism of the Northern Cross, with Deneb now at the top, the cross seen rising on its side in early northern summer, standing upright in the west in early northern winter evenings. Deneb also makes the western apex of the famed Summer Triangle, which also incorporates Vega and Altair. All three of these white class A stars (Deneb an A2 supergiant) have similar surface temperatures, Vega, at 9600 Kelvin, the warmest, Deneb radiating at 8400 Kelvin. Though Vega and Altair are really quite luminous, they are first magnitude primarily because they are close to us, averaging only 25 light years away. Deneb, on the other hand, may be as far as 2600 light years. Based on that distance, its awesome luminosity of 160,000 Suns makes it about the intrinsically brightest star of its kind (that is, in its temperature or spectral class) in the entire Galaxy. If placed at the distance of Vega, Deneb would shine as bright as a well- developed crescent Moon. Deneb is a true supergiant, its diameter, calculated from its temperature and luminosity, is 200 times that of the Sun. Direct measurement of its tiny angular diameter (a mere 0.002 seconds of arc) gives a very similar value of 180 solar. If it were placed at the center of our Solar System, Deneb would extend to the orbit of the Earth. While far from the largest star in the Galaxy, Deneb is one of the biggest of its kind. It is evolving and has stopped fusing hydrogen in its core. Just what it is doing, however, we do not know.

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Having begun its life as a star of some 25 solar masses, its fate is almost certainly to explode sometime within the next couple of million years. The star is constant in its light, but its spectrum, its light as seen when stretched into a rainbow, is slightly variable. Blowing from its surface is a wind that causes the star to lose mass at a rate of 0.8 millionths of a solar mass per year, a hundred thousand times the flow rate from the Sun. Deneb is among the most magnificent stars you can see with the unaided eye. (6/19/98, 8/2/02) RIGIL KENTAURUS (Alpha Centauri). Among the most famed stars of the entire sky, surely rival in renown to Sirius and Polaris even though not visible to much of the world’s population, is the ‘foot of the Centaur,’ Rigil Kentaurus, ‘Rigil Kent,’ the first star of Centaurus, probably much better known as Alpha Centauri or just Alpha Cen. Its fame, indeed that it is the third brightest star in the sky (after Sirius and Canopus), lies not in its extreme characteristics but in its geometry, as it is the closest star to the Sun, lying a mere 4.36 light years away, the distance known to 0.2 percent. Placed well down in the southern hemisphere, in fact the most southerly of naked eye stars, it cannot be seen above about 30 degrees north latitude, making it one of the great luminaries of the southern hemisphere. Alpha Cen deceives the eye. Through but a modest telescope we see it as double. The brighter is a yellow class G dwarf (hydrogenfusing) star that, with a temperature of 5770 Kelvin (10 degrees cooler than solar), appears almost identical to the Sun, certainly an odd coincidence. The companion, over a magnitude fainter, is a cooler (5300 Kelvin) class K star, the two making an obvious color contrast. The pair orbit each other every 79.9 years. Though they average 24 astronomical units apart (23 percent farther than Uranus is from the Sun), the elliptical orbit sends them from a farthest distance of 36 astronomical units to 11, about Saturn’s solar distance. Because of Alpha Cen’s proximity, the brighter component is still of the zeroth magnitude, and would by itself still be the sky’s third brightest star, the secondary coming in at first magnitude at number 21. The orbit and orbital speeds yield masses of 1.10 solar for the brighter star, 0.92 for the fainter (as expected for ordinary hydrogen fusing stars on the ‘main sequence’). The respective luminosities of 1.57 and 0.51 times solar coupled with metal contents almost double that of the Sun lead to a calculation of ages of between 7 and 8 billion years, notably older than the age of the Sun. (‘Astroseismology’ of Rigil Kent A, wherein oscillations on the star’s surface are observed through subtle light variations, gives the same mass, a radius 1.26 times that of the Sun, and a shorter age of 6.5 billion years.) Given Alpha Cen’s mass and the higher age, the star may be close to running out of hydrogen fuel. Alpha Centauri has yet another member, a faint tenth magnitude companion called ‘Proxima’ that is a huge two degrees away from Alpha proper and that orbits with a period of at least a million years. If indeed it does orbit (and that is not certain), it is now on the near side of its path and some 10,000 astronomical units closer than the bright pair, making it actually the closest known star (but since it is part of Alpha, surely it is still fair to call Alpha the closest star). As a mid- class M dwarf star, Proxima is faint indeed, to the eye 19,000 times dimmer than the Sun. From Alpha Cen proper, Proxima would appear as only fifth magnitude, about as bright as the faint stars of the Little Dipper. When infrared radiation produced by its 3100 Kelvin surface is accounted for, it is seen to be more luminous, but still only 1/500 as bright as the Sun, the result of a mass only 20% solar. While the chief component is best known as a solar analogue, Proxima is famed as a dwarf class M ‘flare star,’ one that suddenly erupts with fearsome violence as a result of the collapse of its complex and unstable magnetic fields. Only from Rigil Kentaurus would our Sun have any kind of magnificence. Since the star is close to us, its inhabitants, were it to have any, would see much the same constellation patterns that we do except that Centaurus would be missing its brightest star and the stars that lie between Cassiopeia and Perseus would be the setting for our first magnitude Sun, which would be the eighth brightest in their sky. MIRZAM (Beta Canis Majoris). Commonly also seen spelled ‘Murzim,’ Mirzam is the Beta star of Canis Major, the Larger Dog, the greater of Orion’s canine companions. Around 1600, Johannes Bayer gave Greek letter names to the brighter stars, more or less in order of brightness but with many exceptions, some constellations first broken into sections. The Alpha (Sirius), Beta, and Gamma stars of Canis Major, for example, are all in the Dog’s head and foreparts, yet Mirzam ranks fourth in brightness and Gamma (Mulephein), a fourth magnitude star, a distant eighth. Delta (Wezen), Epsilon (first magnitude Adhara), and Zeta are lower down, marking the Dog’s hindquarters and rear legs. Mirzam’s name, something of a

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mystery, suggests that the star is an ‘announcer’ of brilliant Sirius, as Mirzam rises first, but no one seems to know the exact meaning of the term. Though appearing relatively dim compared to Sirius, Mirzam is by far the greater of the two, its mid-second magnitude (1.98) status the result of its 500-light-year distance, 60 times greater than Sirius’s. Mirzam is a very hot, blue class B (B1) bright giant star with a temperature around 22,000 Kelvin. Much of its radiation is therefore produced in the ultraviolet, where the eye cannot see, and if that is taken into account this magnificent star shines with a luminosity 19,000 times that of the Sun and nearly 1000 times that even of Sirius. If Mirzam were at Sirius’s distance of 8.6 light years it would shine in our sky almost 15 times more brightly than Venus at its brightest. Mirzam is interesting from two points of view. It is one of the local stars whose light is used as a background to study the thin gas of interstellar space, and lies along a sort of tunnel in which the gas is especially hot and thin. More importantly, the star is variable. Though the variations are too feeble to be seen with the naked eye (only about 10%), they are extremely complex and have multiple periods, the three strongest about a quarter of a day, that beat against each other like out-of-tune guitar strings. Mirzam is among the brightest of the ‘Beta Cephei variables’ (after the first discovered), the class also called ‘Beta Canis Majoris variables.’ As a hot giant, Mirzam is beginning its death process, its core hydrogen fusion shut down. Its new structure causes the variations, but no one really knows why or how. CANOPUS. As northerners drive south on winter vacations, they encounter something of a surprise. Just below the brightest star in the sky, Sirius, is the SECOND brightest star, Canopus, 30 degrees and almost exactly south of Mirzam, Sirius’s announcing star. Nearly 53 degrees south of the celestial equator, and the great luminary of Carina, the Keel, Canopus is not visible from latitudes above 37 degrees north, which excludes all of Canada and most of the continental United States (though from the Gulf Coast to southern Arizona the two make a grand winter sight, as they do in all the summertime southern hemisphere). Unlike most stars, the name refers to a person, though its origin is unknown. Canopus was originally the Alpha star of the ancient constellation Argo, the ship on which Jason sailed to find the golden fleece. In more modern times, huge Argo was broken into three parts, Carina (the Keel), Puppis (the Stern), and Vela (the Sails). Canopus fell into Carina, and is therefore now Alpha Carinae. Shining at the minusfirst magnitude (-0.72), Canopus appears about half as bright as its apparent celestial neighbor, Sirius. Physically, the two have nothing to do with each other. Canopus, much the grander star, is much farther away and is a rare class ‘F’ yellow-white (7800 Kelvin) supergiant. From its apparent brightness and distance of 313 light years, we calculate a luminosity 15,000 times that of the Sun. With a diameter 65 times solar, Canopus is large enough to stretch three-fourths of the way across Mercury’s orbit. Canopus possesses an extremely hot magnetically heated ‘corona.’ The Sun’s corona, a thin two-million Kelvin gas that extends far beyond the bright solar surface, is seen only during eclipse. Canopus’s corona is some 10 times hotter and produces both observable X-rays and radio waves. As a supergiant, Canopus has ceased hydrogen fusion in its core, and is in the process of dying, its luminosity suggesting a birth mass 8 or 9 times solar. It may once have been a red giant like Betelgeuse, or it may become one yet, its exact status unknown. Not quite massive enough to explode, Canopus will eventually die as a massive white dwarf like Sirius-B. Most white dwarfs, the leavings of thermonuclear fusion, are made of carbon and oxygen. Canopus is massive enough that fusion reactions may proceed farther to produce a much rarer neon-oxygen white dwarf. ACHERNAR (Alpha Eridani). There are 21 classical ‘first magnitude’ stars in the sky. Of these, 10 are so bright that in modern times they had to be placed into even brighter categories, seven into ‘zeroth’ magnitude (the brightest of which is Alpha Centauri) and two, Canopus and Sirius, into the exclusive ‘minus-first magnitude’ group. Of these 10, Achernar ranks number nine, right behind Procyon in Canis Minor and just beating out Betelgeuse in Orion. Achernar, however, is nowhere nearly as well known to northerners, as it is a deep southern star, visible only to those who live below 32 degrees north latitude, and easily noted only from the tropics and south. The name, from an Arabic phrase, means ‘the end of the river,’ as appropriate for the star that ends the southerly flow of Eridanus, the River, the celestial depiction of River Ocean, a meandering flow of mostly faint stars that originates with Cursa, on which Orion rests his foot. Appropriate to its brilliance, Achernar is also the Alpha star, while Cursa, number two, is the Beta.

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Achnernar is so far south that it was not originally part of this long, thin constellation, which originally ended at Acamar (Theta Eridani), from which Achernar took its name when the river was allowed in more modern times to flow farther to the south. Achernar, a hot class B star, is the hottest of the top ten, rather handily beating out Rigel in Orion. Yet surprisingly, for such a bright star, its temperature is not well known, various measures running from 14,500 to 19,300 Kelvin. From its distance of 144 light years, the lower temperature gives a luminosity 2900 times that of the Sun, while the upper gives 5400 (the difference caused in part by different estimates of the amount of ultraviolet radiation). The radius then ranges between 8.5 to 6.6 times solar. Interferometer measures show the star to be distinctively flattened, the result of a minimum 225 kilometer-per- second rotation speed. The minor and major axes are respectively measured to be 7.6 by 11.8 Suns across, for an average of 9.9 Suns, which agrees better with that derived from the lower temperature. The higher temperature, however, is more in tune with that indicated by the spectral class. The temperature problem probably has to do with the Achernar’s high spin velocity, which helps turn it into a ‘Be,’ or ‘B-emission’ star that has a belt of emitting gas circulating in its equator, Achernar losing mass at a rate thousands of times that of the Sun. As a result, the diameter and temperature are both hard to determine. Achernar is also a member of a peculiar class of ‘Lambda Eridani’ stars that show tiny but very regular periodic light variations that may be caused by actual complex pulsations or by rotation and dark ‘starspots.’ No one really knows. We do know, however, that Achernar is massive, containing six to eight times the solar mass. It is now normally fusing hydrogen into helium in its deep core and will eventually die as a massive white dwarf like Sirius- B. Written by Jim Kaler. Return to STARS. CURSA (Beta Eridani). Orion is so important, he is not only accompanied by two hunting dogs, but his rest is assured by two footstools, one forward, the other to the rear. The latter is made from a quartet of stars in his prey, Lepus the Hare, of which Arneb (Alpha Leporis) is at the upper right hand corner. The ‘foremost footstool’ consists of a four-star box just up and to the right of Rigel, which marks Orion’s left foot. Of these, Cursa, just to the northwest of Rigel, is notably the brightest, and as a result took on the name of the whole ‘footstool,’ ‘Cursa’ from an Arabic phrase meaning ‘the foremost footstool of the Central One,’ the ancient Arabic name for our Orion. This same group of four stars was once also called ‘the ostrich’s nest.’ Cursa begins the River Eridanus, the celestial depiction of the Greek’s ‘Ocean Stream,’ which ends in the great southern star Achernar. Achernar easily won Bayer’s Alpha designation, and from its position as head of the River and its rank as second brightest star (bright third, 2.79), Cursa received Beta. Only 89 light years away, Cursa shines with a soft white light from a surface with a temperature of 8360 Kelvin. A giant star of class A about three times the solar diameter, it radiates 45 solar luminosities into space. Containing two to 2.5 times the mass of the Sun, Cursa is near or even at its termination as a ‘main sequence’ hydrogen-fusing star. Having just reached its giant status, the star will next rapidly expand and cool at its surface to become a much larger orange giant before it brightens and begins the fusion of its core helium. Cursa is commonly considered to be a part of the ‘Ursa Major Moving Group,’ a set of stars spattered all over the sky (that includes Sirius) whose core is the ‘Ursa Major Cluster,’ which consists of the five middle stars of the Big Dipper. The Group is thought to be about 300 million years old, actually too young for Cursa’s apparent status, suggesting that Cursa really does not belong. The star’s most notable claim is its inclusion in a set of very rare stars that seem to exhibit huge flashes. In 1985 it was observed to brighten by a phenomenal three magnitudes (a factor of 15) for a period of over two hours. About two dozen stars, including Enif and Mu Cephei, are suspected of producing such flashes. Reasoning from the Sun and its flares, the flashes may be produced by magnetic activity, but no one knows, as they are so very difficult to study. As a result they are among the great mysteries of stellar astronomy. BETELGEUSE (Alpha Orionis). The great star Betelgeuse is one of the two that dominate mighty Orion of winter, the other Rigel, the pair respectively called Alpha and Beta Orionis. The name Betelgeuse is a corruption of the Arabic ‘yad al jauza,’ which means the ‘hand of al-jauza,’ al-jauza the ancient Arabs’ ‘Central One,’ a mysterious woman. For us, it marks the upper left hand corner of the figure of the Greek’s ancient hunter (and since he is facing you, his right shoulder). One of the sky’s two first magnitude supergiants (the other Antares of summer), Betelgeuse is one of the larger stars that can be seen, indeed one

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of the larger stars to be found anywhere. At its most likely distance of 425 light years, its measured angular diameter yields a radius 630 times that of the Sun, 2.9 astronomical units. If placed at the Sun, the star would go 55% of the way to the orbit of the planet Jupiter. The star is so large that it is the first ever actually directly imaged as a disk from Earth (by the Hubble Space Telescope). From its size and temperature, allowing for its infrared radiation, Betelgeuse shines an amazing 60,000 times brighter than our Sun. The distance, however, is so great to be subject to some uncertainty, the possible radius ranging from 45% to 70% of Jupiter’s orbit, the luminosity from 40,000 solar to 100,000 solar. Whatever the actual numbers, Betelgeuse is clearly a highly evolved star, one whose central hydrogen fuel supply has run out. As a result, the core contracted into a hot dense state, and the outer portions swelled outward. We do not really know the star’s condition at the moment, but the odds are that it is now in the process of fusing helium into carbon and oxygen in its core. Betelgeuse is variable over long time periods, is ejecting part of itself through a strong wind, and is surrounded by a huge shell of dust of its own making. The wind and variability are perhaps related to huge hot spots on the star’s surface, one of which was seen by Hubble. Betelgeuse is also surrounded by some controversy. From theory, its initial mass should have fallen somewhere between 12 and about 17 times that of the Sun. If at the high end, the core will fuse elements through neon, magnesium, sodium, and silicon all the way to iron. It will then collapse, and Betelgeuse will blow up as a ‘supernova’, most likely leaving a compact neutron star about the size of a small town behind. If it were to explode today, it would become as bright as a crescent Moon, would cast strong shadows on the ground, and would be seen easily in full daylight. If the star is near or under the lower end of the range, then Betelgeuse may eventually become a shrunken and dense white dwarf about the size of Earth. Even then, however, it will be different. Most white dwarfs are made of carbon and oxygen, whereas Betelgeuse has enough mass to become one of the exceedingly rare neon-oxygen white dwarfs. The only way we will really know is to wait a few million years. Written by Jim Kaler. Return to STARS. RIGEL. Like its rival in Orion, Betelgeuse, Rigel (Beta Orionis) is a supergiant. Its name comes from the same root as Betelgeuse’s, originally ‘rijl Al-jauza,’ meaning the ‘foot’ of al-jauza, the Arabs ‘Central One.’ For us, the star represents the left foot of Orion, the mythical hunter. It is usually pictured as perched upon a fainter star, Cursa (Beta Eridani), which represents the hunter’s foot stool. Though Rigel is Orion’s Beta star, it appears to us somewhat brighter than the Alpha star, Betelgeuse, perhaps suggesting that Betelgeuse was somewhat brighter in times past. Rigel ranks 7th in visual brightness, just behind Auriga’s Capella. At a distance of 775 light years, Rigel actually shines with the light of 40,000 Suns. It is a ‘blue supergiant,’ a fairly hot star with a surface temperature (11,000 Kelvin) about double that of our Sun. Its warmer temperature gives it a bluish-white light that contrasts beautifully with Betelgeuse. If the hot star’s invisible ultraviolet radiation is considered, the luminosity climbs to 66,000 solar, the radiation pouring from a star 70 times the solar size. Rigel is accompanied by a fairly bright, seventh magnitude companion nine seconds of arc away. Normally such a star is easily found in a small telescope, but Rigel’s brilliance nearly overwhelms it. The companion, at least 50 times farther from Rigel than Pluto is from the Sun, is itself double, the components much fainter and much less massive class B main sequence stars that are fusing hydrogen into helium. With an original mass around 17 times that of the Sun, Rigel is in the process of dying, and is most likely fusing internal helium into carbon and oxygen. The star seems fated to explode, though it might just make it under the wire as a rare heavy oxygen-neon white dwarf. Rigel is a part of a large association whose stars are related by birth. The group includes the stars of Orion’s Belt, the Orion Nebula of Orion’s sword and its illuminating stars, and many of the other hot blue-white stars in the constellation. PROCYON (Alpha Canis Minoris). The eastern anchor of the Winter Triangle, Procyon is the Alpha star of Canis Minor, the smaller dog. The Greek name means ‘before the dog,’ as in northern latitudes the star rises before Sirius, the ‘Dog Star,’ and its constellation, Canis Major, and announces their quick arrival. The eighth brightest star we see in the sky, Procyon is just behind Rigel in Orion. The star is bright in part, however, because it is close to us, a mere 11 1/4 light years away, compared with Rigel’s 1600 light years.

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By comparison, Procyon is a feeble radiator even if it is still 7 times intrinsically more luminous than the Sun. The star is an example of a ‘subgiant,’ one that is just beginning its death process, its internal core hydrogen about all burned away to helium. Procyon’s chief claim to fame is a tiny companion, Procyon B, a ‘white dwarf’ discovered in 1895, though its existence was already known from the wobbles it exerts on the brighter star, Procyon A, which were discovered in 1844. Recent Hubble Space Telescope observations show that Procyon B has a temperature of 8700 degrees above absolute zero, a bit warmer than Procyon A’s 6500 degree temperature, and is only about the size of Earth. Oddly, another member of the Winter Triangle, Sirius, has a similar companion. Both are dead stars that have gone through the entire cycle of stellar evolution and now consist of highly compressed gas that is just cooling off. At one time they were mighty stars brighter than their visible companions are today. SIRIUS (Alpha Canis Majoris). From Orion, look south and to the east to find brilliant Sirius, as if one really needs directions to find the brightest star in the sky. Its name comes from the Greek word for ‘searing’ or ‘scorching,’ certainly appropriate for a star that shines at the bright end of the ‘minus-second’ (-1.46) magnitude. Sirius is the luminary of the constellation Canis Major, the Greater Dog, which represents Orion’s larger hunting dog, and as such is commonly referred to as the ‘Dog Star.’ So great is its prominence that it has two ‘announcer stars’ that from the mid- northern hemisphere rise before it, Procyon and Mirzam. Famed from times long past, the first glimpse of Sirius in dawn announced the rising of the Nile in ancient Egypt. (It no longer does because of precession, the 26,000-year wobble of the Earth’s axis.) Sirius is also part of a large asterism, the Winter Triangle, the other two stars of which are Betelgeuse in Orion and Procyon in the smaller dog, Canis Minor. Because of its brilliance, Sirius is the champion of all ‘twinklers,’ the effect caused by variable refraction in the Earth’s atmosphere. The star is bright in part because it is indeed rather luminous, 23 times more so than the Sun. Though a ‘main sequence’ ‘dwarf star’ that, like the Sun, shines by hydrogen fusion, it is twice as massive as our star, and as a result is hotter and brighter, its 9400 Kelvin temperature making it quite white. But it is also bright to us because it is nearby, a mere 8.6 light years away, just double that of the closest star to the Earth, Alpha Centauri. Sirius’s greatest claim to fame may be its dim companion. Though at eighth magnitude (8.44), visually some 10,000 times fainter than the bright star we see (which is called ‘Sirius A’), Sirius B is actually the hotter of the two, a blue-white 27,000 Kelvin. Though typically separated from each other by a few seconds of arc, Sirius B is terribly difficult to see in the glare of Sirius A. The only way the companion star can be both hot and dim is to be small, smaller than Earth. The two orbit each other with a 50-year period at an average distance of 20 Astronomical Units (the AU the average distance between the Earth and the Sun), the orbital eccentricity carrying it from 31 AU to 8 AU and back again. From the orbit, we find that the little one has about the mass of the Sun. Called a ‘white dwarf,’ on the average it packs a metric ton into a cubic centimeter, roughly a sugar cube. White dwarfs are the end products of ordinary stars like the Sun, tiny remnants that have run out of nuclear fuel. Most are balls of carbon and oxygen whose fates are merely to cool forever. Sirius B itself is the end product of a star that at one time was much more massive and brilliant than Sirius A is today. CAPELLA. (Alpha Aurigae) In early mid-northern winter evenings, Capella shines almost directly overhead, and is one of the three bright stars spread around the northern sky, the others Arcturus of spring and Vega of summer. All are close to the same brightness, Arcturus cool and orange, Vega, hot and white, Capella yellow-white and in the middle of the temperature range. Barely the faintest of the three, it distinguishes itself by being the first- magnitude star closest to the pole. Capella, meaning ‘the She- Goat’ from old Roman times, is the Alpha star of the constellation Auriga, the Charioteer, a prominent irregular pentagon of stars. Just to the south of Capella is a triangle of fainter stars, an asterism called ‘The Kids.’ Capella, at a distance of 42 light years, is one of the sky’s most famous double stars. Its two components are both yellow class ‘G’ stars with roughly the same temperature as the Sun, but are much larger and brighter, one 50 times more luminous than the Sun, the other 80 times brighter, each having about 10 times the solar diameter. Each is therefore a dying giant that has ceased hydrogen fusion in its core. The two stars, just below the edge of separability in the best telescopes by eye, are only about 60 million miles apart - - about two-thirds the distance between Earth and Sun -- and orbit each other with a period of just 104

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days, from which we find masses about 2.5 times that of the Sun. The brighter star, slightly the more massive and the more evolved, has almost certainly begun the fusion of its internal helium into carbon. The dimmer of the pair seems to have a contracting helium core that has not yet fired up. Capella is a source of X-rays, probably from surface magnetic activity similar to that seen on the surface of the Sun, but which star is responsible is uncertain. Capella also has a faint companion that is itself a double made of two dim red class M dwarfs that orbits a good fraction of the light year away from the star that graces northern winter. ARCTURUS (Alpha Bootis). Among the very brightest of stars, shining with a soft orange light, Arcturus lights northern spring skies. It is one of three luminaries that partition the northern sky into very rough thirds, the others being summer’s Vega and winter’s Capella. Of the three, Arcturus, the Alpha star of the constellation Bootes, the Herdsman, is slightly the brighter, making it the brightest star of the northern hemisphere and the fourth brightest star of the entire sky, following only Sirius, Canopus, and Alpha Centauri. Arcturus, the ‘Bear Watcher,’ follows Ursa Major, the Great Bear, around the pole, ‘arktos’ being the Greek name for ‘bear,’ from which our word ‘arctic’ is derived by reference with the constellation of the Greater Bear. Arcturus is located at a distance of 37 light years, and became famous when its light was used to open the 1933 world’s fair in Chicago, as that light had left the star at about the time of the previous Chicago fair in 1893. It is a classic orange class K (K1) giant star with a precisely defined surface temperature of 4290 degrees Kelvin. To the eye, it shines 113 times more brightly than our Sun. Its lower temperature, however, causes it to radiate considerable energy in the infrared. When this infrared radiation is taken into account, Arcturus actually shines almost twice as brightly, releasing 215 times more radiation than our Sun, from which we find a diameter 26 times solar, about a quarter the size of Mercury’s orbit. Arcturus is close and large enough so that its angular diameter of 0.0210 seconds of arc can easily be measured, leading to a very similar direct determination of 25 times the solar dimension and providing nice confirmation of stellar parameters. Arcturus has a velocity relative to the Sun that is higher than other bright stars. Compared with the set of surrounding stars, which orbit the Galaxy on more or less circular orbits, it falls behind by about 100 kilometers per second (as do several others of the ‘Arcturus Group’). The lagging movement has long suggested that the star comes from an older population of the Galaxy. Consistently, it is somewhat deficient in metals, having only about 20 percent as much iron relative to hydrogen as found in the Sun. A more intriguing suggestion is that the star actually comes to us from a small galaxy that merged with ours some 5 to 8 billion years ago. As a giant, weighing in at around 1.5 times the mass of the Sun, it has ceased the fusion of hydrogen in its core. Though it is somewhat brighter than we would expect for a stable helium fusing star, helium fusion to carbon has probably already begun. Such stars are not expected to have magnetic activity like the Sun, but very weak X-ray emission suggests that Arcturus indeed is magnetically active and has a hard-to-observe ‘buried corona.’ Written by Jim Kaler. Return to STARS. VEGA (Alpha Lyrae). One of the most famed stars of the sky, Vega is the luminary of the dim but exquisite constellation Lyra, the Lyre, which represents the harp of the great mythical musician Orpheus. Its name derives from an Arabic phrase that means ‘the swooping eagle.’ Vega is one of three brilliant stars that divide the northern heavens into thirds, the others Arcturus and Capella, and with Altair and Deneb forms the great Summer Triangle, lying at its northwestern apex. At magnitude zero, it is the sky’s fifth brightest star, falling just behind Arcturus and just ahead of Capella. It is also one of the closer stars to the Earth, lying just 25 light years away. Though its proximity helps make it bright in our skies, it is also inherently luminous, some 50 times brighter than our Sun. Vega is a classic white main sequence star, like the Sun quietly running off the nuclear fusion of hydrogen deep in its core, with a surface temperature of about 9500 degrees Kelvin. Its color and apparent brightness made it the basic standard against which the apparent magnitudes of all other stars are ultimately compared. Because it is 2.5 times as massive as the

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Sun, it uses its internal fuel much faster and will burn out in less than a billion years, less than 10 percent of the solar lifetime. Vega was one of the first stars to be discovered with a large luminous infrared-radiating halo that suggests a circumstellar cloud of warm dust. Since Vega seems to be rotating with its pole directed toward the Earth, the dust cloud probably represents a face-on disk that may not be unlike the disk surrounding the Sun and that contains the planets. Several other stars similar to Vega (Fomalhaut, Denebola, Merak, for example) possess similar disks, and astronomers speculate that they may indicate the existence of planetary systems, though no planets have ever been detected. Even if they exist, it seems unlikely that life would have developed to any degree because of the short lifetimes of these hot stars. ALTAIR (Alpha Aquilae). First magnitude (0.77) Altair, the 12th brightest star in the sky and the Alpha star of Aquila the Eagle, is also the southern anchor of the famed Summer Triangle, which it makes with Vega and Deneb. The Arabic name ‘Altair,’ reflective of the constellation itself, comes from a phrase meaning ‘the flying eagle.’ Though the constellation does not look much like its name, Altair itself is flanked by a pair of stars (the Beta and Gamma stars Alshain and Tarazed) that really do remind the sky- gazer of a bird with outstretched wings. The trio of stars has in fact been taken for an airplane with wing lights slowly flying across the sky. Though three of the stars of the Summer Triangle are all white in color and hotter than the Sun, all are also individuals. A class A (A7) hydrogen-fusing dwarf with a temperature of 7550 degrees Kelvin, Altair is the coolest of the three (with Vega and Deneb nearly equal at 9500 Kelvin). Altair is also the least luminous. From its distance of 16.8 light years, we find it to be 10.6 times brighter than the Sun, as opposed to 50 times for Vega and an astounding 200,000 or so for much more distant Deneb. Like the Sun and Vega, Altair is ‘on the main sequence’ of stars, fusing hydrogen into helium in its core. Yet the star is not without its own striking characteristics. It is moving across the sky against the background of distant stars more quickly than most, and will displace itself by as much as a degree in only 5000 years. It is also a very rapid rotator. Its equatorial spin speed, while certainly not a record, is still an astonishing 210 kilometers per second (and may be greater, since the axial tilt is not known), as compared with the Sun’s 2 kilometers per second. With a radius 1.8 times that of the Sun, the star has a rotation period of at most only 10 hours, as opposed to nearly a month for our ponderously spinning Sun. Altair’s high speed has even caused it to become distorted. Observation with a sophisticated interferometer, from which the angular size of the star is measured, reveals a 14% oblateness. Even with its high rotational velocity, however, Altair is far from its rotational breakup speed of 450 kilometers per second. Written by Jim Kaler. Return to STARS. DENEBOLA (Beta Leonis). Great Leo, which dominates northern spring skies, contains three stars of note, bright Regulus, second magnitude Algeiba, which shares the ‘Sickle’ with Regulus, and second magnitude Denebola. Denebola, Leo’s Beta star, is the easternmost of a prominent triangle of stars set to the east of Regulus. It provides us with the Lion’s tail, the name coming from the Arabic phrase that means exactly that. Denebola is a classic white star of temperature 8500 degrees Kelvin, and is similar to summer’s first magnitude Altair, but at a distance of 36 light years it is twice as far away and therefore dimmer to the eye. Like all the brighter naked eye stars, Denebola is more luminous than the Sun, emitting 12 times the solar energy. It is one of a fairly rare ‘Vega‘ class of stars that is surrounded by a veil of infrared- emitting dust. Since the planets of our Solar System were apparently created from a circumstellar dusty cloud, such dust implies the possibility that Denebola might have planets as well, though there is no direct evidence for them. Denebola is also a subtle variable star of the ‘ Delta Scuti‘ type. Such stars vary in brightness by small amounts over periods of only hours. The star shows no evidence for any kind of stellar companion.

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Volume 2: The Magickal Sky – Part6: The Fixed Stars – Chapter Page 17 FOMALHAUT. This wonderful first magnitude star of northern- hemisphere autumn, usually pronounced ‘fo-ma-low,’ slides slowly in lonely grandeur above the southern horizon during the months of October and November. Well to the south of the Great Square of Pegasus, Fomalhaut marks for us the otherwise dim constellation Piscis Austrinus, the Southern Fish, not surprisingly also south of the more well-known zodiacal constellation Pisces, the Fishes. The Alpha star of the constellation, the name means the ‘fish’s mouth,’ and comes from a longer Arabic phrase meaning ‘the mouth of the southern fish.’ It at first seems like yet another ordinary white ‘class A’ star similar to, though a bit cooler than, Vega in Lyra (which passes nearly overhead in temperate latitudes) with a surface temperature of about 8500 Kelvin. It is quite close, only 25 light years away, from which we calculate a luminosity 16 times greater than the Sun. Almost the same distance as Vega, it is over a full magnitude fainter to the eye as a result of somewhat lower mass, which results in a lower surface temperature and smaller size. In 1983 an orbiting satellite called IRAS discovered far more infrared radiation coming from the star than expected. Infrared -radiation which has waves longer than red light -- is a signature of a cool source. The radiation is coming from a huge disk of matter four times the dimension of our planetary system that surrounds the star much like those that encompass Vega and Denebola. The disk is thought to be made of icy dust particles that have been warmed by the star. The planets of our Solar System almost certainly formed from the accumulation of dust in just such a disk. Recent observations of Fomalhaut’s disk shows a hole in the middle. Could the hole be the result of planets that have removed the dust? So far none have been detected. But keep your eye on the lonely one to the south. POLARIS (Alpha Ursae Minoris). Not seasonal, always there in the nighttime sky, Polaris, the North Star, marks the unchanging North Celestial Pole, for most of us about halfway up the sky to the north, the elevation above the horizon equal to the observer’s latitude. Actually, Polaris is slightly off the pole and has a tiny circle around it about 1.5 degrees across. The pole itself, about which Polaris goes, marks true north, the fundamental direction for us in the northern hemisphere that defines the others, east, west, and south. Because of a 26,000 year wobble in the Earth’s axis, the pole of the sky is slowly moving closer to Polaris, and then, around the year 2100, will start to pull away. Thousands of years from now, Polaris will be well off the pole, other stars someday taking its place. Polaris also marks the end of the handle of the Little Dipper, the prominent figure of Ursa Minor, the Smaller Bear. Much fainter than its ‘Big’ counterpart, the Big Dipper, the Little Dipper is hard to find in a bright sky. Polaris has the common reputation of being the brightest star in the sky, whereas near dead-on second magnitude (2.02) it comes in at about number 40. Its lower rank, however, is largely determined by its great distance of 430 light years. The star is actually an evolved class F yellow supergiant 2200 times more luminous than our Sun. Hydrogen fusion has stopped in the star’s core, and it is now passing through a phase of instability wherein it pulsates over a period of about four days, almost invisibly changing its brightness as the brightest ‘Cepheid’ variable star in the sky. The prototype of this kind of star, Delta Cephei, though fainter, is a much more obvious variable, its changes easily seen with the naked eye. Cepheids are paramount distance indicators in astronomy, as their true brightnesses are revealed by their periods of oscillation. Polaris is particularly interesting as the pulsations have nearly, but not quite, ceased. Just as a violin string has a ‘fundamental’ tone that gives its pitch, it also vibrates in higher-frequency overtones. Comparison with other Cepheids shows that Polaris is pulsating not with its natural fundamental period, but in its first overtone. The star may be in the process of evolving into its fundamental period of 5.7 days to become a more-normal Cepheid with a greater variation. ALKAID (Eta Ursae Majoris). Though the name may not be so well known, the star certainly is, as Alkaid is the end star in the handle of the Big Dipper, the great asterism that makes most of the grand constellation Ursa Major, the Greater Bear. Just fainter than Dubhe, the front bowl star of the Dipper,

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second magnitude Alkaid is the second brightest star in the constellation and places number 35 in the list of the brightest stars. Though Johannes Bayer generally listed stars by Greek letter names in order of brightness within a constellation, the stars of the Dipper are named from west to east, rendering Alkaid Eta Ursae Majoris rather than Beta. Different cultures see the sky differently as well. Alkaid’s Arabic name means ‘the leader,’ and appears to refer to the ‘daughters’ (the handle of the Dipper) that stand by a funeral bier made of the Dipper’s bowl. Alkaid is also known as Benetnasch, which also refers to the daughters. Alkaid is almost exactly 100 light years away. With a surface temperature of about 20,000 degrees Kelvin, is one of the hotter stars that can be seen with the naked eye, and therefore glows to us a soft blue-white. Like the Sun, it is a ‘main-sequence’ star that shines by fusing hydrogen into helium in its core. However its mass of six times that of the Sun renders it both hotter and over 700 times more luminous. Were Alkaid our Sun, we would have to be 25 times farther away to survive, almost to the orbit of Neptune. It one of the two renegades of the Dipper. The five middle stars are all moving through space together as part of a loosely bound cluster. Alkaid and Dubhe, however, are moving in their own directions, ultimately dooming the Dipper’s shape. The star is just below the temperature limit at which stars produce strong X-rays as a result of shock waves in their winds, and is therefore only a weak source of X-rays. Written by Jim Kaler. Return to STARS. REGULUS. Regulus, glowing at the heart of Leo the Lion, one of the great constellations of the zodiac, is near the end of the list of first magnitude stars. At a distance of only 77 light years, it shines in our sky at magnitude 1.35, just marginally brighter than the next one down, Adhara, the second brightest star of Canis Major. The Latin name means ‘the little king,’ the reference to a kingly star going back to ancient times. Regulus marks the bottom of an asterism called the ‘sickle of Leo,’ a sickle-shaped figure that outlines the head of the celestial lion. The star is almost exactly on the ecliptic, the path of the Sun, and is regularly occulted, or covered over, by the Moon. Down and to the left of Regulus, find the brighter star Spica. The autumnal equinox, where the Sun crosses the ecliptic in September, lies right between the two. Regulus is a ‘main sequence’ star, a so-called dwarf that like the Sun is fueled by the internal fusion of hydrogen into helium. Though technically a dwarf, Regulus is still visually 140 times brighter than the Sun, the luminosity climbing to 240 time brighter when the star’s ultraviolet radiation is taken into account. Its luminosity and a temperature of 12,000 Kelvin show from theory that it has a mass some 3.5 times solar. Consistently, it is 3.5 times larger than the Sun, the figure derived both from temperature and luminosity and from a direct measure of angular diameter. Regulus has a distant lower mass companion located at least 4200 astronomical units away from it (100 times Pluto’s distance from the Sun), which orbits Regulus with a period of at least 130,000 years. The companion is ITSELF a double separated by at least 95 astronomical units) in a thousand year orbit. Both stars are less massive and dimmer than the Sun. The brighter is an orange dwarf similar to the lesser component of Alpha Centauri, while the fainter is a red (class M) dwarf. From the little double, Regulus would look like a brilliant star six times brighter than our full Moon. DUBHE (Alpha Ursae Majoris). Almost first magnitude, shining for us at the front of the bowl of the Big Dipper in Ursa Major, the Great Bear, Dubhe (the ‘h’ silent, the final ‘e’ pronounced almost any way you wish) leads the Dipper in its northeasterly climb above the horizon. The Arabic name means ‘the bear’ itself, and comes from a longer phrase that indicates the star’s location on the back of the Great Bear. Though not quite the brightest of its constellation, just two percent short of Alioth (the Eta star, third in from the handle), Dubhe received the Alpha designation when Bayer simply lettered the Dipper’s stars from west to east, from Dubhe to Alkaid, the latter bringing up the end of the bear’s tail. Together with Merak, the Beta star, Dubhe makes the famed ‘Pointers,’ which lead north to the North Star, Polaris. In the other direction they point toward Regulus in Leo. As appropriate for the Dipper’s lead star, Dubhe quite stands out among the others that make the famed figure. The middle five stars, which include Mizar

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along with its little companion Alcor, are all warm class A stars that are part of a physical cluster all about 80 light years away. Dubhe, however, is not a part of the system (nor is Alkaid), and is half again as distant, 124 light years, and the most distant of the Dipper stars. As a class K giant with a temperature of 4500 Kelvin, it is also the coolest of them (its orange color easily noted), and the only one that is evolved and in the long process of dying, though for now it is temporarily stabilized by the fusion of helium in its core. With a luminosity 300 times that of the Sun, Dubhe is the second most luminous of the seven stars, topped only by hot Alkaid, the luminosity and temperature implying a radius 30 times solar. Dubhe is orbited at a distance of about 23 Earth-Sun distances (somewhat greater than the distance between Uranus and the Sun) by a warmer and much dimmer and less massive class F star that takes 44 years to go around. Someone riding a planet orbiting the F star would see vastly brighter Dubhe as second orange sun with about half the brightness of the Sun in our sky. Over 400 times farther away is another class F star that also has a companion (with a six- day period), from which Dubhe would appear as a brilliant orange star over 10 times brighter then Venus, making a total of four stars in the system. The Dipper’s middle five stars are all moving together, while Dubhe and Alkaid are going in the other direction, the Dipper destined to fall apart over the next tens of thousands of years. ALCOR (80 Ursae Majoris). Alcor, forever tied to Mizar, is hardly ever spoken of unless as ‘Mizar and Alcor,’ a naked eye double in the tail of Ursa Major that the Arabs referred to as the horse and rider. The name Alcor, however, was stolen from that for Alioth. Both come from an Arabic word that means the ‘black horse.’ The term was distorted in different ways as it was applied to each of the two stars. Oddly, the ‘rider’ of the pair is the one with the name of the ‘horse,’ ‘Mizar’ referring not to a horse but to the ‘groin’ of the Great Bear. A great many stars with Bayer Greek letter names have no proper names. Alcor is one of the very few in reverse, a star that has a proper names but no Greek letter name. Instead, it is referred to as 80 Ursae Majoris. In the early 1700s, the English astronomer John Flamsteed organized a new catalogue of stars in which they were ordered from west to east within the constellations, Alcor number 80 in Ursa Major. ‘Flamsteed numbers’ are commonly used when the Greek letter names run out. Alcor is a fourth magnitude (4.01) white class A (A5) star with a temperature of 8000 Kelvin and a luminosity 12 times that of the Sun. It appears coupled with Mizar, but is it really a physical companion? We are still not sure. Mizar itself is a quadruple star on the ‘double-double’ theme (two double stars in orbit about each other.) Precision parallaxes with the Hipparcos satellite show Mizar to be 78.1 light years away, but Alcor to be 81.1 light years distant. Mizar and Alcor are part of the Ursa Major cluster, whose core consists of the middle five stars of the Big Dipper. A separation of over three light years, almost the distance between here and Alpha Centauri, would make a gravitational pairing unlikely as the neighboring stars would pull them apart. The measured errors, however, allow a separation as close as 0.7 light years. The errors in the distances are suspected of being greater than listed, and the analysis of the orbit of Mizar A suggests that Mizar might actually be FARTHER than Alcor! If they are actually at the same distance, their minimum separation is only 0.27 light years, making them close enough so that they could truly orbit, though with a long period of three-quarters of a million years. For a time Alcor was thought to be double, but it now appears that early astronomers were fooled and that it is really single, rendering Mizar and Alcor together a ‘quintuple star.’ While the Mizar stars are slow rotators with peculiar chemical compositions as a result of element separation, Alcor is a rapid spinner (218 kilometers per second, over 100 times solar). As a result, its atmosphere is stirred and its composition normal. It is, however, a slight pulsating variable. The inner five stars of the Big Dipper are all at roughly the same distance and all are normal hydrogen fusing main sequence dwarfs. Alcor’s faintness next to the them is a vivid reminder of the role that mass plays in the stars. Alcor’s mass is around 1.6 times that of the Sun. Alioth, on the other hand, with twice Alcor’s mass, is almost 10 times brighter! Written by Jim Kaler. Return to STARS. ALIOTH (Epsilon Ursae Majoris). The graceful curve of handle of the Big Dipper (the Plough in Great Britain), among the most famed of celestial sights, represents the tail of Ursa Major, the Greater Bear.

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Volume 2: The Magickal Sky – Part6: The Fixed Stars – Chapter Page 20

Third star in from the end, ‘Alioth’ relates not to a bear, but to a ‘black horse,’ the name corrupted from the original and mis- assigned to the naked-eye companion of Mizar, which took on the vaguely similar name ‘Alcor.’ Bayer’s rough rule of assigning Greek-letter names more or less in order of brightness is quite violated here, as the Bear’s bright stars are named from west to east, hence ‘Epsilon’ for Ursa Major’s brightest (bright second magnitude, 1.77) star, indeed for the 31st brightest star in the whole sky. A white class A (A0) star with a measured temperature of 9400 Kelvin, Alioth shines at us from a distance of 81 light years with a luminosity 108 times that of the Sun, from which we derive a diameter of four times solar and a mass close to triple that of the Sun. Large and luminous for its class, Alioth is probably ageing, and is nearing the end of its main sequence hydrogen-fusing lifetime. Of greater significance, Alioth is the brightest of the ‘peculiar A (Ap) stars,’ magnetic stars in which a variety of chemical elements are either depleted or enhanced, and in addition appear to change with great regularity as the star rotates. ‘Chemically peculiar’ behavior in class A and B stars generally comes not from creation of elements, but from their separation in the relatively thin stellar atmospheres, some falling downward within the star’s gravitational field, others lofted upward as a result of an outward push by radiation. Here, they are also apparently related to the Alioth’s magnetic field. Alioth is classed as an ‘Alpha Canum Venaticorum’ star (after the prototype, Cor Caroli). Its magnetic field -- and the chemical composition -- change from our perspective during the star’s 5.1-day stellar rotation period. Some elements are highly concentrated into distinct regions that swing in and out of sight as the star spins. For example, the abundance of oxygen is 100,000 times greater near the magnetic equator than near the magnetic poles (which are displaced from the rotational equator and poles); chromium behaves similarly. Heavier elements, such as the rare earth europium, also display strong variations. Though visually the brightest of the peculiar A stars, Alioth is also noted for having one of the weakest magnetic fields among its class, only about 100 times that of the Earth, 15 times weaker than that observed for Cor Caroli. Written by Jim Kaler. Return to STARS. MERAK (Beta Ursae Majoris). High in the sky in northern spring evenings, just climbing above the northern horizon in southern hemisphere autumn, the Big Dipper -- the ‘plough’ in England -- is among the most recognized and recognizable of figures, one of the first learned in a quest to know the constellations. Leading the westward moving parade are Dubhe at the lip of the Dipper’s bowl and Merak, also at the bowl’s front and just to the south of Dubhe, the two making the Big Dipper’s ‘Pointers’ that lead the way to the North Star. While often considered a constellation, the Dipper is a small part -- an asterism -- of the ancient figure of Ursa Major, the Greater Bear, much of which is circumpolar, never setting for far northerners. The names of all but two of the Dipper’s stars (Alioth and Alkaid) refer to the Bear, ‘Merak’ coming from an Arabic description that means ‘the flank of the Greater Bear.’ The two front bowl stars make a nice contrast, Dubhe a cool orange giant, Merak a seemingly standard hot (9000 Kelvin) white class A ‘main sequence’ star, one that is quietly fusing hydrogen to helium its core, as does the Sun. With an apparent magnitude of 2.4 (faint second), Merak ranks fifth in brightness in the Dipper, right after Mizar in the figure’s handle. In spite of its ranking, however, it received the Beta designation from Bayer, who lettered the Dipper’s stars from front to back. From its distance of 79 light years, Merak’s luminosity is seen to be almost 60 times solar, its mass about triple that of the Sun. While these class A stars are not all that common, they are bright enough to be seen at large distances and thus seem disproportionately numerous in nighttime sky. Merak has two special features that set it off from the others. Like Fomalhaut and some others, it is a Vega kind of star, one that radiates extra infrared light that seems to be coming from a disk-like shroud of heated dust, one reminiscent of the dusty disk that produced our planets. Merak’s detected disk approaches the orbit of Saturn in size, the dust particles having temperatures of a few hundred degrees Kelvin, similar to that found in our own planetary system. Does the star have planets too? We do not know. Merak is also a prominent part of the Ursa Major Cluster, as are all the Dipper’s stars but the two at the ends, the middle five all class A stars about the same distance away. The sight from one of Merak’s planets, were it to have any, would be quite lovely, the five easterly stars of the Dipper all ‘zeroth’ magnitude or brighter within a 25 degree-wide segment, the middle three stars of the handle (Megrez,

New Magicks for a New Age
Volume 2: The Magickal Sky – Part6: The Fixed Stars – Chapter Page 21

Alioth, and Mizar) clumped into a small brilliant triangle. MIZAR (Zeta Ursae Majoris). One of the most famed stars of the sky, second magnitude (2.27) Mizar, 78 light years away, is the Zeta star of Ursa Major, the Greater Bear, the second star in from the end of the handle of the Big Dipper, and the Dipper’s fourth brightest star. In large part its fame comes from the coupling of the star with a nearby visual companion, fourth magnitude Alcor, only 12 minutes of arc (a fifth of a degree) to the northeast. The two, Mizar and Alcor, termed the ‘horse and rider’ by the Arabians, are a good test of minimal vision. The star’s Arabic name derives from a word meaning ‘the groin’ of the celestial Bear that plods silently around the north celestial pole (the name mistakenly drawn from Merak, in the Dipper’s bowl). However even without Alcor, Mizar takes its place in the celestial hall of fame as the first known ‘double star,’ one that consists of a pair of stars that orbit each other. Found to be double in 1650, Mizar is a prime target for someone with a new telescope, as the components are an easy 14 seconds of arc apart (at least 500 astronomical units), the two taking at least 5000 years to make their orbit about each other. More remarkably, each of these two components is AGAIN double. The brighter of the two contains a very close pair a mere 7 or 8 thousandths of a second of arc apart (an angle made by a penny at a distance of 300 miles) that has an orbital period of 20.5 days; the fainter of them contains a pair with a period of about half a year. Mizar is thus actually a quartet of stars, a double-double. It is moving through space together with its more-distant companion, Alcor. Mizar and Alcor together therefore probably make a quintuple star, Alcor taking at least 750,000 years to make a single round trip around its quadruple companion. All of the stars are similar, all ‘main sequence’ hydrogen-fusing stars like the Sun, but of white class A (the brighter both A2, the fainter probably both A5 or A7) with temperatures ranging between around 7500 and 9000 degrees Kelvin and luminosities from 10 to 30 times solar. The orbit of the brighter double that makes Mizar has been observed with a sophisticated ‘interferometer’ that makes use of the interfering properties of light. Analysis shows the component stars to have masses 2.5 times that of the Sun; the masses of the fainter pair are estimated at around 1.6 solar. The stars have odd chemical abundances as a result of slow rotation, which allows for quiet atmospheres and chemical separation. The brighter of the pair seen through the telescope is rich in silicon and strontium, whereas the fainter is a ‘metallic line star’ that is deficient in aluminum and calcium but high in silicon and in rare earths like cerium and samarium. ZUBENESCHAMALI (Beta Librae). Pronounced, zoo-ben-es-sha-mali, this tongue twister is among the better known of star names, along with that of its partner Zubenelgenubi, respectively the Beta and Alpha stars of Libra, the Scales. The pair, the only modestly bright stars in Libra, are still of only third magnitude. Libra is the only constellation of the Zodiac -- the band of constellations containing the Sun’s path -- that is not a living thing, the term Zodiac meaning ‘circle of animals.’ Appropriate to its name, Libra once held the autumnal equinox (it no longer does because of precession, the 26,000-year wobble of the Earth’s axis). But ‘Libra’ is a more modern appellation, its two brigher stars once representing (and of course still doing so) the outstretched claws of Scorpius, the Scorpion. Indeed, the name Zubeneschamali, the northern one of the two, comes from an Arabic phrase meaning ‘the northern claw,’ that of the Alpha star meaning ‘the southern claw.’ Zubeneschamali is a hot ‘main sequence’ (hydrogen fusing) star with a surface temperature of close to 12,000 Kelvin, double that of the Sun. While such stars are normally considered blue-white in color, Zubeneschamali has long had a reputation of being the only naked eye star that oddly appears GREEN to the human eye. Others have claimed that it merely appears white. No doubt the argument will persist. From its distance of 160 light years, we calculate that the star is about 130 times more luminous than the Sun. Its high temperature makes for a simple spectrum (its rainbow of colors) and it is therefore ideal for examining the medium of interstellar gas and dust that like between us and the Sun. Like many stars of its kind, it is spinning rapidly, over 100 times faster than the Sun. Though not considered a variable star, ancient astronomers claimed it to be as bright or brighter than first magnitude Antares right next door in Scorpius. We will probably never know if that is true, or, if it is, how Zubeneschamali could have faded so fast.

New Magicks for a New Age
Volume 2: The Magickal Sky – Part6: The Fixed Stars – Chapter Page 22 ZUBENELGENUBI (Alpha Librae). Dim Libra, which 2000 years ago held the autumnal equinox in its balance pans, is identified chiefly by two stars to the northwest of Scorpius that have delightful names, Zubeneschamali and Zubenelgenubi. They harken back to the ancient times when they were considered the outstretched claws of the Scorpion, making the two something of a double constellation. ‘Zubenelgenubi’ derives from an Arabic phrase meaning the ‘Scorpion’s southern claw,’ while the name of its mate (to which it is not physically related) refers to the northern claw. Bright third magnitude and somewhat dimmer than Zubeneschamali, Zubenelgenubi still received the Alpha designation. Rather like Mizar and Alcor, it is a naked eye double, flanked four minutes of arc (0.06 degree) to the northwest by a fifth magnitude companion. The two are probably a physical pair, as they move through space together, both of them 77 light years away from us. The fainter (called Alpha-1 because it is the westerly of the two) is a class F star about 1000 Kelvin hotter than the Sun, while the brighter (Alpha-2) is a much warmer white class A star with a temperature of 8500 Kelvin. The two are separated by at least 5500 Astronomical Units, nearly 140 times Pluto’s distance from the Sun, and maybe more since we do not know the exact difference in distance. At that separation, the orbital period would be over 200,000 years. From Alpha-2, Alpha-1 would appear as a brilliant star of the minus tenth magnitude, 100 times brighter than Venus does in our sky. From Alpha-1, Alpha-2 would be 10 times brighter yet and rival our full Moon. Alpha-2, the brighter, is deceptive however. It is itself a double made of two class A stars, one 45 percent brighter than the other. From Earth they are a mere hundredth of a second arc, only a few tenths of an astronomical unit, apart, comparable to Mercury’s distance from the Sun. Even from Alpha-1 they would be inseparable with a human eye. There is some evidence that this triple star system belongs to a hugely extended group of stars (the ‘Castor Moving Group’) that move together through space and that include Castor, Vega, and Fomalhaut. Zubenelgenubi proper (Alpha- 2) has an enhancement of metals in its atmosphere most likely caused by separation of elements, some rising up, others drifting down, the culprit probably the brighter of the very close pair that makes it up.

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