Arcturus a star growing with humanity

Arcturus-sun

Image via Wikipedia

Can stars predict the future of the human race?

One of the brightest stars in the sky, is Arcturus. It’s only been visible to us for the past half million years. That’s about the same time as the dawn of humanity.

Throughout the ages it has become brighter. Growing in brightness as society has been evolving. Now it’s one of the brightest stars in the sky, cumulating in brightness at the height of civilization.

But it won’t stay that way for long. About half a million years from now, it will gradually dim and disappear from our view into the void of interstellar space. Will humanity have a similar fate?

It was always thought that stars were fixed in the heavens. After examining old star charts the discoverer of Halley’s Comet, Edmund Halley about 300 years ago first noticed that Acturus was moving and becoming brighter. The old star charts ranked it dimmer as a 6th magnitude star.

It’s easy to find. Find the Big Dipper, and make an arc to bright star Arcturus. 

Arturus is moving fast, at 90 miles per second. It’s moving towards the constellation Virgo and in 900 years from our vantage point it will move about the width of the moon.

For more information on Arcturus, here is a video by James Albury from the Kika Silva Planetarium at Santa Fe College in Gainesville, Florida the host of Stargazer.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FWsyq6_d1GA

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About Mario Carr

Mario Carr has a Physics degree from McMaster University and hosts this blog. He is the director of public education for the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers and has helped to raise the profile of the group. He writes an astronomy column and appears on CHCH-TV to talk about the night sky. Mario is the founder of the Carr Marketing Group in Burlington, Ontario and can help with your marketing, communications, publicity and public relations needs. He can be reached at www.carrmarketinggroup.com or mariocarr@cogeco.ca.
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