Menkar – a visible double – is the Whale’s alpha star | EarthSky


Menkar (Alpha Ceti) seems as a double star in small telescopes. But the two stars aren’t gravitationally sure and lie at very completely different distances from Earth. The main star, Menkar, resides some 250 light-years away, whereas the 2nd star, referred to as 93 Ceti, lies at about twice that distance away.

Menkar in Cetus the Whale

Menkar (Alpha Ceti) is simply the 2nd-brightest star within the constellation Cetus the Whale, after Diphda, or Deneb Kaitos, in any other case often called the Whale’s Tail. Why was Menkar designated because the Whale’s alpha star, when it’s not the constellation’s brightest? It is likely to be as a result of Menkar sits nearer to the ecliptic, which marks the sun’s yearly circuit in entrance of the background stars.

Menkar isn’t the Whale’s most well-known star both, by the way in which. The most well-known star in Cetus is Mira, generally referred to as Mira the Wonderful, a famend variable star. Still, Menkar has its personal claims to fame. For instance, Star Trek followers would possibly acknowledge it.

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Keep studying to be taught extra about Menkar.

Chart of the constellation Cetus highlighting the stars Debeb Kaitos, Mira, and Menkar.
Menkar marks the top of Cetus the Whale (or Sea-Monster).
Star chart with stars in black on white with constellation Cetus.
An in depth star chart exhibiting Cetus the Whale, through the International Astronomical Union/ Sky & Telescope/ Wikimedia Commons.

Whale’s alpha star in TV and movie

Hello, Star Trek followers! Remember the star that performed a key position in an unique Star Trek episode referred to as Space Seed (1967)? The second Star Trek movie Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982) additionally featured it.

Ceti Alpha V is the planet on which Khan and his crew are exiled in Space Seed, and from which they escape in Wrath of Khan after the planet is rendered uninhabitable. Ceti Alpha. Alpha Ceti. This Star Trek star is called for Menkar, regardless of its flipped Bayer designation.

By the way in which, As of December 1, 2021, there are 4,878 confirmed exoplanets in 3,604 planetary methods, with 807 methods having multiple planet. But no planet has been discovered for Menkar (Alpha Ceti) thus far.

Oddly shaped houses in what looks like a small village.
Unnamed settlement on the fictional planet Ceti Alpha V. In actuality, no planets are recognized for the star Alpha Ceti … but.Image through Gvsualan/ Wikia.

When is the very best time to see Menkar?

As seen from northern temperate and polar latitudes, Menkar shines due south round 9 p.m. native time across the December winter solstice (on or close to December 21). Because all the celebs, besides the sun, return to the identical place within the sky about 2 hours earlier with every passing month, that locations Menkar highest up and due south round 7 p.m. on January 21.

The V-shaped Hyades star cluster – Face of the Bull within the constellation Taurus – serves as a directional arrow, pointing the way in which to the star Menkar. Hold your fist at arm’s size. Then hop two fist-widths from the purpose of the “V” to find Menkar’s approximate place within the star-studded heavens.

It’s fairly simple to see Menkar and the Circlet of stars outlining the Head of Cetus the Whale in a darkish sky. In the lore of the sky, this fearsome creature nearly devoured up the Princess Andromeda, the daughter of King Cepheus and Queen Cassiopeia. But Perseus the hero rescued the Ethiopian princess within the nick of time.

A photograph of the constellation Cetus the Whale, via <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Till Credner</a>
{A photograph} of the constellation Cetus the Whale, through Till Credner/AlltheSky.

Science of Menkar

A small telescope exhibits Menkar to be a colourful double star. The orange large star, Menkar, contrasts with its fainter blue-white companion, the star 93 Ceti. These two stars usually are not bodily associated. They simply occur to lie alongside our line of sight, as seen from Earth. Menkar resides some 250 light-years away, whereas 93 Ceti lies at about twice that distance away.

Menkar’s ruddy complexion reveals that it’s a cool star within the autumn of its years, and 93 Ceti’s blue-white radiance signifies a sizzling star within the heyday of youth.

Menkar is just like our sun in mass, with solely about twice the sun’s mass. However, Menkar is in a unique stage of its evolution than our sun. It has exhausted the hydrogen and helium gasoline at its core and has expanded to develop into a large star with about 89 occasions the radius of our sun. The massive space of Menkar’s photosphere – or seen outer layer – signifies that it’s emitting about 1,455 occasions as a lot vitality because the sun, though the efficient temperature is simply 3,795 Ok (in comparison with 5,778 Ok on the sun). The low temperature is the rationale Menkar shines with a reddish hue. Red stars are usually cooler stars than white stars, simply as pink sizzling on Earth signifies one thing cooler than white sizzling.

As Menkar continues to evolve – and to burn carbon at its core – it’s thought this star will develop into unstable and in the end develop into a variable star. Perhaps it’ll be just like Mira, Cetus the Whale’s well-known variable star.

Bottom line: The star Menkar within the constellation Cetus the Whale. History, lore, claims to fame, science.

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