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    Betelgeuse is fading
    From: Frank Reed
    Date: 2019 Dec 26, 11:09 -0800

    Maybe some of you have read that there's something funny happening to Betelgeuse. Its brightness has fallen significantly. Normally brighter than Rigel (the "knee" on the opposite side of the belt), it is now about the same brightness as Bellatrix, the other shoulder of Orion. It's striking. At this level, it's even in danger of decapitalization! Sounds like it's going to be removed from the Dow Jones average or something, but what I'm joking about here is the fact that the brighter stars in Pub.249 are listed in all caps, e.g., "ALTAIR", to distinguish them from the fainter ones like "Alpheratz". It's right at the cutoff even now, and if Betelgeuse fades any further (and stays there, which is unlikely) it would no longer count as a "bright" navigational star.

    Note that some sensational media coverage has suggested that Betelgeuse is about to go supernova, but the probability of that has not increased much. Betelgeuse will become a supernova in the next few million years. Before this change in brightness, the odds of a Betelgeuse supernova were around one in a million annually The odds of it happening this year are now maybe 1.1 in a million. 

    Frank Reed

       
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