Discovering the Universe
THROUGH THE SKY'S MOST BRILLIANT STARS
This book is dedicated to my wife, Mamie, who has been the Sirius of my life.
This book is printed on acid-free paper.
Copyright © 2008 by Fred Schaaf. All rights reserved
Published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey Published simultaneously in Canada
Illustration credits appear on page 272.
Design and composition by Navta Associates, Inc.
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data:
The brightest stars : discovering the universe through the sky's most brilliant stars / Fred Schaaf.
Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-0-471-70410-2 (cloth : alk. paper)
1. Stars—Luminosity function—Amateurs' manuals. 2. Stars—Amateurs' manuals. 3. Astronomy—Amateurs' manuals. I. Title.
QB815.S33 2008 523.8--dc22
Printed in the United States of America
Introduction 1 PART ONE
Stars in the Sky
1 How Bright Is Bright? 7
2 Meet the lst-Magnitude Stars 13
3 The Locations, Yearly Motions, and Names of the Stars 25
4 Seeing Stars Better (Skies, Eyes, and Telescopes) 39
Stars in the Universe
5 Parts, Structure, Distances, and Motions in the Universe 51
6 The Varieties of the Stars 63
7 The Lives and Deaths of the Stars 71
Profiles of the Brightest Stars
8 Sirius 83
9 Canopus 104
10 Alpha Centauri 115
11 Arcturus 126
12 Vega 136
13 Capella 146
14 Rigel 157
15 Procyon 163
16 Achernar 170
18 Beta Centauri
19 Alpha Crucis
26 Beta Crucis
174 182 185 188 196 208 215 224 230 238 241 247
Appendix A The Brightest Stars: Position, Spectral
Type, Apparent and Absolute Magnitude, and Distance 255 Appendix B The Brightest Stars: Spectral Type, Color
Index, Color, and Surface Temperature 256 Appendix C Midnight and 9:00 p.m. Culminations,
Season of Prime Evening Visibility 257
Appendix D Diameters and Masses of the Brightest Stars 258
Appendix E Motions of the Brightest Stars 259
Appendix F The 200 Brightest Stars 260
Illustration Credits 272
The first person I want to thank in connection with this book is Kate Bradford. Kate acted as acquisitions editor for two books of mine at the same time: The Brightest Stars and The 50 Best Sights in Astronomy. Now that both books have come to fruition (50 Best Sights was published by John Wiley & Sons in 2007), I feel extremely gratified to have been able to bring them into being. But the whole process could not have gotten off the ground without Kate's skilled help and support.
The next person I worked with on these two books was editor Teryn Johnson. I've not forgotten her congenial support. The person who has worked the most, and the most vitally, with me on these books, however, has been Christel Winkler. She has been patient and understanding under trying circumstances. I wish to give my deepest thanks to her for her tremendous and conscientious efforts to keep these books on schedule.
Now let me turn to the diagrams, maps, and artwork produced for The Brightest Stars. Many of them were created by two old friends of mine, Guy Ottewell and Doug Myers. Their work is always unique and brilliant. I owe an enormous debt of gratitude to both of them.
Vital maps were also provided by Robert C. Victor and D. David Batch, who produce the Abrams Planetarium Sky Calendar. Sky Calendar is a wonderful resource for all knowledge levels of skywatchers, and teachers, too. It is available from the Abrams Planetarium, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan 48824. You can also check out the associated Skywatcher's Diary at www.pa.msu.edu/abrams/diary.html.
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