15 Starry Facts About the Sirius Star You Definitely Didn’t Know
Dec 05, · The accolade of ‘brightest star in the sky as viewed from Earth” goes to the well-known star Sirius, also popularly called the “Dog Star”, due to its role as the dominant star in the Canis Major (Greater Dog) constellation. Being such a visible heavenly body, it has been the object of wonder and veneration to ancient peoples throughout human history. The heliacal rising of Sirius coincided with the flooding of the Nile in Ancient Egypt and the "dog days" of summer for the ancient Greeks (the hottest, most uncomfortable days of summer, so named due to their connection with this rising of Sirius), while to the Polynesians it marked winter and was an important star for navigation around the Pacific Ocean. The course of the star was also observed and revered by .
It is a binary star in the constellation Canis Major. The bright component of the binary is a blue-white star It has a radius 1.
Its distance from the solar system is 8. Sirius was known as Sothis to the ancient Egyptianswho were aware that it made its first heliacal rising i. They long believed that Sothis caused the Nile floods, and they discovered that the heliacal rising of the star occurred at intervals of That Sirius is a binary star was first reported by the German astronomer Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel in He had observed that the bright star was pursuing what causes eyes to water continuously slightly wavy course among its neighbours in the sky and concluded that it had a companion star, with which it revolved in a period of about 50 years.
The companion was first seen in by Alvan Clarkan American astronomer and telescope maker. Despite the glare of the bright star, the eighth-magnitude companion is readily seen with a large telescope. This companion star, Sirius Bis about as massive as the Sun, though much more condensed, and was the first white dwarf abojt to be discovered. Additional Info. More About Contributors Article History. Home Science Astronomy Sirius star.
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Mysterious Stellar Knowledge
Among the ancient Romans, the hottest part of the year was associated with the heliacal rising of the Dog Star, a connection that survives in the expression “ dog days.” That Sirius is a binary star was first reported by the German astronomer Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel in He had observed that the bright star was pursuing a slightly wavy course among its neighbours in the sky and concluded that it had a . Jul 03, · Sirius, also known as the Dog Star, is the brightest star in our night-time sky. It's also the sixth closest star to Earth, at a distance of light-years. (A . Interesting Facts About Sirius, the Dog Star. The constellation Canis Major contains the brightest star in the night sky, Sirius, a blue-white star light distant and radiating more than 20 times the energy of our own sun. In actual fact, Sirius A has a companion star, the white dwarf Sirius B, which rotates around their center of common.
Sirius, also known as the Dog Star, is the brightest star in our night-time sky. It's also the sixth closest star to Earth, at a distance of 8. A light-year is the distance that light travels in a year. The name "Sirius" comes from the ancient Greek word for "scorching" and it has fascinated observers throughout human history because of its brightness and colorful twinkling.
Astronomers began seriously studying Sirius in the s, and continue to do so today. It is usually noted on star maps and charts as alpha Canis Majoris, the brightest star in the constellation Canis Major the Big Dog.
Sirius is visible from most parts of the world except for very northerly or southerly regions , and can sometimes be seen during the day if conditions are right. The astronomer Edmond Halley observed Sirius in and determined its proper motion that is, its actual motion through space. More than a century later, astronomer William Huggins measured the actual velocity of Sirius by taking a spectrum of its light, which revealed data about its speed. Further measurements showed that this star is actually moving toward the Sun at a velocity of about 7.
Astronomers long suspected that Sirius might have a companion star. It would be hard to spot since Sirius itself is so bright. But, they kept looking for it. In , F. Bessel used analysis of its motion to determine that Sirius really did have a companion.
That discovery was finally confirmed by telescope observations in The companion is called Sirius B, and it is the first white dwarf an aged type of star with a spectrum to show a gravitational redshift as predicted by the general theory of relativity.
There are stories floating around that some early civilizations saw this companion without the aid of a telescope. It would have been very hard to see unless the companion was very bright.
So, it's not clear what the ancients saw. However, current scientists are quite interested in learning more about Sirius A and B. More recent observations with Hubble Space Telescope have measured both of the stars, and revealed that Sirius B is only about the size of Earth, but has the mass close to that of the Sun. Sirius A, which is what we see with the naked eye, is about twice as massive as our Sun. It is also 25 times more luminous than our star.
Over time, and as it gets closer to the solar system in the far distant fugure, it will also increase in brightness. That's part of its evolutionary path. While our Sun is about 4. This star has earned the name "Dog Star" from an interesting time in Earth's past.
One reason it's called that is that it's the brightest star in Canis Major. However, there's a more interesting idea about its name: it was also incredibly important to stargazers in the ancient world for its prediction of seasonal change.
For example, in the time of the Pharoahs in Egypt, people watched for Sirius to rise just before the Sun did. That marked the season when the Nile would flood, and bathe the nearby farms with mineral-rich silt. The Egyptians made a ritual of looking for Sirius at the right time—it was that important to their society.
The rumor goes that this time of year, typically late summer, came to be known as the "Dog Days" of summer, particularly in Greece, when people began looking for the Dog star just before sunrise.
The Egyptians and Greeks weren't the only ones interested in this star. Ocean-going explorers also used it as a celestial marker, helping them navigate around the world's seas. For example, to the Polynesians, who have been accomplished navigators for centuries, Sirius was known as "A'a" and it was part of a complex set of navigational star lines the islanders used to voyage up and down the Pacific between Tahitian islands and Hawai'i.
Today, Sirius is a favorite of stargazers, and enjoys many mentions in science fiction, song titles, and literature. It appears to twinkle madly, although that's really a function of its light passing through Earth's atmosphere, particularly when the star is low on the horizon.
Edited and updated by Carolyn Collins Petersen. Share Flipboard Email. Nick Greene. Astronomy Expert. Nick Greene is a software engineer for the U. He is also the U. World Space Week Coordinator for Antarctica. Cite this Article Format. Greene, Nick. Sirius: The Dog Star. Which are the Largest Stars in the Universe?
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