"The Strange and Marvelous Reality of The Brightest Star We See The Most Often"

Scheduled air date: 2000 Mar 06-12

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The two stars at the "open" end of the Big Dipper (an asterism in Ursa Major) act as pointer stars to Capella.  Capella is the brightest star which appears so close to the North Celestial Pole — approximately marked by Polaris, the "North Star" — that it is above the horizon almost all the time for mid-Northern latitudes.

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Capella is actually a four-star system, consisting of two yellow giants and two red dwarfs.  The topmost yellow circles shown here represent the size and separation of the yellow giants to scale.  The small red dots in the bottom portion of this illustration represent the red dwarfs to scale, relative to the the lower set of yellow circles representing the same yellow giants (in this case, the sizes are at a larger scale than the separations).

If you wish to view illustrations for other episodes, please see our Star Gazer Illustrate directory.


Illustrations on this page were created using TheSky Astronomy Software, an advanced desktop planetarium program designed for Windows.

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