Saturday, January 22, 2011

"Two Suns in 2012"

Hey Space Placers!

Several MAJOR news outlets are picking up a news article that says Earth will have two suns in 2012. Well I gotta' tell you I was amazed to read these articles and dreaded the effect it would have on people reading them.

The story centers on the red giant star Betelgeuse going supernova - exploding - in 2012 and becoming bright enough "so that there are 24 hours of sunlight", hence the 2 suns. Well, couple that with the doomsday poppycock of 2012 and there you have it - a story to go viral on the 'net just like the Mars hoax that blossoms EVERY year in August. The Mars hoax dates back to August 2003 and said that Mars will be as big as the Full Moon. I get questions about it every year......

Betelgeuse WILL go supernova some day and become very bright but will NOT become a second sun - no way, no how. It MAY become bright enough for a few weeks to a month to be visible during daylight hours right after it explodes as it is about 600 light years away. That is far enough away to protect us from the gargantuan explosion yet close enough to be a very bright sight indeed.

Betelgeuse is about 20 times more massive than our own Sun and is rapidly depleting the hydrogen fuel at its core. Once that fuel is spent the star will struggle to find other fuel sources to keep nuclear fusion going and thereby survive but it will eventually implode on itself and then explode in spectacular fashion. I hope to see it but there is NO WAY to predict when this will happen. It could be tonight or it could be in 100,000 years. We won't know until it happens.

I still don't know how the  predicted Mayan calendar Armageddon of 2012 got hitched to Betelgeuse. I guess it is easy when facts and science do not matter as much as an attention grabbing headline.

Rest assured Space Placers......we will be alive and well when 2013 comes around.

You can see Betelgeuse in the sky tonight and for the rest of winter. Look at the Orion blog I posted the other day with the star chart. Find his three stars-in-a-row belt and  look to the upper left - Betelgeuse is bright and reddish in color. You really can't miss it.

Sky Guy in VA

Betelgeuse as seen by the Hubble Space Telescope

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