Meet Canopus, the Second Brightest Star

July 12, 2019 - Comment

Canopus Vitals Bodily Traits Canopus is the second-brightest star within the night time sky, edged out solely by Sirius—however don’t take that as a sign that Canopus is the weaker of the 2. With a mass about eight or 9 instances that of the Solar, Canopus sports activities a powerful girth greater than 70 instances


Canopus Vitals

Canopus

Bodily Traits

Canopus is the second-brightest star within the night time sky, edged out solely by Sirius—however don’t take that as a sign that Canopus is the weaker of the 2. With a mass about eight or 9 instances that of the Solar, Canopus sports activities a powerful girth greater than 70 instances the Solar’s, and a luminosity greater than 10,000 to 13,000 instances brighter than our host star. Canopus additionally maintains a really excessive floor temperature of seven,350Okay, which is roughly three,000°F hotter than the Solar’s seen floor.

However in the identical approach that the sunshine from stars like Deneb or Polaris loses a few of its punch throughout the lengthy journey to Earth, the huge distance of 300 light-years separating us from Canopus diminishes its obvious output. The star appears to be like brilliant, for positive, however not practically as brilliant as it’d seem if it had been nearer. Nonetheless, Canopus continues to be a superb sight and seems roughly half as brilliant as Sirius. This excessive luminosity —mixed with its isolation from different brilliant stars — made Canopus an excellent navigational information star for the Voyager house probes.

Carina constellation

Canopus is the brightest star within the southern constellation Carina, the Keel.
IAU / Sky & Telescope (Roger Sinnott & Rick Fienberg)

Canopus is the brightest star within the southern constellation Carina. In antiquity, the celebs of Carina had been a part of an enormous constellation known as Argo Navis, the Ship Argo. However this constellation was so sprawling that fashionable astronomers broke it into three separate teams, every named for a piece of the unique ship; Carina, the Keel; Vela, the Sails; and Puppis, the Poop Deck or Stern. So in the event you see a constellation Argo in previous atlases, it would comprise Canopus.

Origin / Mythology

Canopus just isn’t seen from a lot of Greece (or a lot of Europe, for that matter), so it lacks a few of the conventional Greek mythology frequent to different brilliant stars. One Greek story that’s hooked up to Canopus has to do with the Trojan Warfare hero Menelaus, who visited Egypt and “found” the brilliant star, which he then named after the ship’s navigator Canopus. The story feels as if it might need a kernel of historical past in it.

The

The “previous man of the South Pole” on painted ceramic.
Wikimedia Commons

In China, the star seems low within the southern sky (if it’s seen in any respect; the star is out of attain of northern China), so Canopus turned related to the “Previous Man of the South Pole,” a gentleman with a white beard (an analogous idea existed in Japan). The star is an emblem of longevity and happiness.

The star options in a number of different Southern Hemisphere cultures. In a single model of a Navajo delusion from the southwestern U.S., Canopus was often called “M’ii Bizo,” a star that the Coyote had positioned low within the southern sky over his mountain. Polynesians knew it as “Atutuahi,” and used the star as a navigational help throughout lengthy ocean voyages out of sight of different landmarks.

The star additionally has varied names and mythology related to a number of cultures all through Asia, , and certain will get its identify from the traditional Egyptian metropolis of Canopus.

How one can See Canopus

When you reside within the U.S., you’ll in all probability must do some travelling with the intention to discover a clear view of Canopus, because the star sits far sufficient south that it’s invisible from an excellent portion of the continental U.S.

Even in southern states, Canopus hops solely briefly over the horizon throughout the fall and winter months. In principle, the star rises for any location south of about 37°N, which would come with roughly the decrease third of the continental U.S. However as any skilled astronomer can inform you, finding astronomical objects low on the horizon is difficult. Moreover topography, bushes, and buildings that obscure the bottom parts of the horizon, atmospheric circumstances are usually worse nearer to the bottom, making low-angle observations tough or not possible. Nonetheless, the farther south you go, the upper Canopus rises within the sky, and the higher your probabilities of acquiring a transparent view will probably be. (Winter trip in south Florida, anybody?)

Canopus

Canopus is the brightest star on this picture from the Southern Hemisphere, which features a view of the Magellanic Clouds.
Akira Fujii

Discovering Canopus when it’s seen ought to be no drawback — it’s the second-brightest star, in spite of everything. Through the winter months, discover Orion and take a brief jaunt southwest to Sirius. From there, it’s a straight (however pretty lengthy) leap right down to Canopus. When you’re trying, you may seize a digicam and tripod; Sirius and Canopus make a pleasant photograph collectively, and it’s one thing that not everybody will get to see.



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