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Learn about planets outside our solar system through Exoplanets and Alien Solar Systems by Tahir Yaqoob, Ph.D., a book in our online store book collection.
This photograph, taken by the Hubble Telescope, shows the supergiant, Betelgeuse. Betelgeuse is the 12th brightest star in the night sky.
Click on image for full size
Image from the Hubble Space Telescope, reproduced with permission from AURA/STScI.

Betelgeuse: The Next Supernova?

What's in a Name: Arabic for "shoulder of the giant". Could also mean "hand of al-jauza" where al-jauza is the Arabs' "Central One". Also known as the Martial Star.
Claim to Fame: First star seen as a sphere instead of a point of light by the Hubble Space Telescope on March 3, 1995. 12th brightest star in the sky . Possibly will be the very next supernova in our galaxy.
Type of Star: Orange-Red Supergiant (M2 Iab Spectral Class). 3300K surface temp.
How Far Away: About 425 light years away
How Big: 630 times the sun's radius. Would overfill the orbit of Jupiter if placed at the sun's position in the solar system
How Bright: 60,000 times the sun's visual luminosity (absolute visual magnitude, Mv = -7)
Where to View: In the constellation of Orion
When to View: Best viewed from the Northern hemisphere during December-March

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The Summer 2010 issue of The Earth Scientist, available in our online store, includes articles on rivers and snow, classroom planetariums, satellites and oceanography, hands-on astronomy, and global warming.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF