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Hubble Space Telescope image of the cool red giant star Mira in the ultraviolet.
Click on image for star map
M. Karovska (Center for Astrophysics) and NASA

Mira - Flickering Red Giant

What's in a Name: Latin for Wonderful
Claim to Fame: Humans have been watching this star with interest for over 300 years. It changes its luminosity over a 332 day period by both shrinking and cooling. At its maximum it is a breathtaking deep red star and the brightest star in the constellation Cetus. But for 5 months it cannot even be seen with the unaided eye.
Type of Star: Red Giant (M7 IIIe Spectral Class)
How Far Away: 220 light years away
How Big: 300 times the sun's diameter. Would fill the orbit of Mars.
How Bright: 3-500 times the sun's luminosity
Where to View: Located in constellation of Cetus the Whale (Star Map).
When to View: Can only see it when the star is at its maximum brightness in its cycle. Best time to view Cetus is October through January

Last modified January 11, 2006 by Travis Metcalfe.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA