On the next clear night look for Arcturus

First published in Sky Watch The Westmorland Gazette: Photograph of the Author by

YOU should all already know where and how to spot Venus, Jupiter and Mars in the evening sky now, so this week I'm going to introduce you to one of the most prominent and interesting stars in the northern sky: Arcturus. To find it, on the next clear night look north, find the Big Dipper, then just continue the curve of its handle down towards the north east horizon. The bright star shining there above the trees is Arcturus.

Arcturus is the fourth brightest star in the sky, and is only 36.7 light years away. That means that the starlight reaching us from it now set off in 1975, when we were all watching Space Oddity and Bohemian Rhapsody on Top of The Pops...

When we look at Arcturus we're looking at our own Sun's future. Before it dies, in around five billion years time, the Sun will swell up to become a bloated orange giant star - just like Arcturus...

Stuart Atkinson Eddington Astronomical Society of Kendal

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