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Astronomy Club Meeting

Dimming of star Betelguese in the winter constellation Orion

  • Davis-Explorit Astronomy Club
When Feb 22, 2020
from 07:00 PM to 10:00 PM
Where Explorit Science Center
Contact Name Vinita Domier
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Dimming of star Betelguese in the winter constellation Orion

by Vinita Domier (


Betelguese is a semi regular variable red supergiant star that is usually the second brightest star in the great Orion Constellation and is one of the brightest stars in the sky. This distinctive constellation's seven bright stars depict a central hourglass figure with the other six stars, including the brightest star Rigel, being young blue giant or supergiant stars. As Betelguese is a variable star, its brightness has been known to change over time. However, in the last few months it has been observed to inexplicably dim more than usual, going from a visual magnitude of average of +0.5 to recently plateauing at a historic low of +1.6 and accompanied by a change in its overall shape. As supergiant stars end their lives in a massive explosion or supernova, some astronomers are speculating that this unprecedented dimming might be a sign that Betelguese is nearing the end of its life as a red supergiant.


Orion, the Hunter, is one of the most recognizable of the 88 constellations and is prominent in the evening sky from January to March. Comprising of some of the brightest stars in sky, it is easy to imagine the shape of its namesake huntsman with one outstretched arm holding a spear overhead and the other arm holding a shield in front. A distinguishable feature is a close grouping of three relatively bright stars in a slanted line that can be imagined to be Orion's belt across his midsection along with a vertical line of three dimmer stars depicting his sword. Even with the unaided eye, however, the middle 'star' in the sword appears fuzzy rather than a pinpoint as it is the bright Orion Nebula, a region of closest star formation also known as Messier 42 or M42. 


Join the Davis Astronomy Club on Saturday, February 22 starting at 7pm at Explorit Science Center (3141 5th Street, Davis) at the free public meeting for all ages where we will discuss the star Betelguese in particular and the Orion Constellation in general, followed by a star party where we will gaze at the stars of the Orion Constellation, weather permitting. 


For more information, please contact Vinita Domier at

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