Looking Up: A Stern Look At Asmidiske

Jan 16, 2017

  

This week on Looking Up Hal remarks on a remarkable star - Asmidiske, in the constellation Puppis.

  It’s nice to have a roof over your head, especially when you are sailing across the ocean. And did you know that there is a constellation in southern Colorado skies right now that represents the roof of the back end of the ship. You’ve heard it referred to before, even as you giggled at the name – poop deck.  

A poop deck actually has nothing to do with, well, you know, but rather is the roof of the cabin built in the rear portion of the sailing ship. And the constellation Puppis is not about puppies, but rather the Stern of the ship Argo, forever sailing across the night sky.

And if you’re interested in stars that make up the poop deck of the ship Argo, have I got a star for you – the remarkable star Asmidiske! It’s a scientific name is Xi Puppis, and it’s visible as a medium bright star trailing behind the constellation Canis Major, and the super bright star Sirius.

Asmidiske is actually a tiny bit cooler than the surface of our own Sun, but it is much larger - you could put 118 of our sun’s across its equator. It’s really big. And it’s really bright, with a light output of more than 7000 times what we see on a summer’s day from our Sun. Astronomers are not completely sure exactly where Asmidiske is in its life cycle. There is some evidence that its core is already dead and it still expanding, while other evidence suggests that it’s core is still active, but is fusing helium instead of hydrogen. In any case, Asmidiske is racing through his lifetime, so it’s a good thing it’s at least 1200 light years away.

Like a lot of stars, Asmidiske is not alone. It has two smaller stars that seem to orbit it – one  about twice the Sun-Pluto distance, and another one at least 2000 times the distance to Pluto, which takes at least 26,000 years to complete one orbit! Now that is a long distance relationship!

If you’d like to take a closer look at the Asmidiske, or any of the other 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!