Looking Up: Big Shiny Red Fire Engine

Mar 6, 2017

Mu Cephei - the Garnet Star
Credit Wikipedia

This week on Looking Up we find out about one of the biggest, reddest stars up in the northern sky - the Garnet Star.

When you look at the wonderful night sky in Colorado, nearly every star looks like a tiny diamond of white light. But there are a handful of stars that have a different color. And in the northern night sky we can see just about the reddest star out there, Mu Cephei, commonly known as the Garnet Star!

Located in Cepheus, you can find it to the right of the more famous big W of Cassiopeia. The Garnet Star is gorgeous to look at, and it’s even more amazing when you learn about the star itself – It’s a BIG story!

And that’s because the Garnet star is one of the biggest stars you’ll ever see – astronomers only know of four stars that are bigger, out of the billions of stars in our galaxy.

The Garnet star is so big that if you swapped it out for our Sun, its surface would be nearly out to the orbit of the planet Saturn! Big! You could put over 1 BILLION of our Suns inside the Garnet Star. No wonder they call it a super-giant.

It’s is also one of the brightest stars out there, giving off more than 350,000 times the energy of what our Sun gives off. It’s old, and will explode into a supernova in the next million years or so, so keep watching!

If you’d like to take a closer look at the Garnet Star or any of the wonderful and amazing things in the sky, please visit CSASTRO.org for a link to information on our monthly meetings and our free public star parties! 

This is Hal Bidlack for the Colorado Springs Astronomical Society, telling you to keep looking up, Southern Colorado!