Home » News & Blogs » Meet Mira, A Wonderful And Astonishing Star
Bookmark and Share
Astro Bob

Meet Mira, A Wonderful And Astonishing Star

8 Oct 2019, 17:21 UTC
Meet Mira, A Wonderful And Astonishing Star
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

Mira is a red giant star just 1.2 times as massive as the sun but 700 times larger! It’s big enough to show a shape in this photo taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. The odd, football-like shape may be caused by its expansion-contraction cycles or surface features. NASA/ESA
There’s a new star in the night sky and its name is Wonderful. Literally. It’s called Mira, Latin for “wonderful” or “astonishing.” Of course, it’s not new, but most people have never set eyes on it. It goes “missing” for much of the year because it’s too faint to see with the naked eye. But for about two months it returns to view for all to see.
Most stars we see with the naked eye produce a steady light and don’t vary. Like the sun their light is steady. Mira is different. It belongs to a class of stars called long period variables. Approximately every 333 days (about 11 months) the star brightens from magnitude 9 or 10, when it’s only visible in binoculars or a small telescope, until it shines as brightly as the stars in the Big Dipper. When brightest the star is at maximum. Then it fades back ...

Latest Vodcast

Latest Podcast

Advertise PTTU

NASA Picture of the Day

Astronomy Picture of the Day