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Mira nears Maximum

Thursday, February 16, 2017 6:31
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Westen horizon at 22:00 ACDST showing Mira and the other bright stars of Cetus. Stack of 9×15 second exposers 400 ASA, Canon IXUS. Stacked in Deep Sky Stacker. Stellaium view of the western horizon at astronomical twilight, the location of Mira is indicated by the circle.

Mira (omicron ceti), a star in the constellation of Cetus the whale, is a long period pulsating red giant and changes brightness from below naked eye visibility to a peak of round magnitude 2 (roughly as bright as beta Crucis in the Southern Cross) in around 330 days. Mira is predicted to peak with maximum of 3.4 around 23 February.

This image is the first time I’ve been able to capture Mira this cycle.  Mira, bespite being low to the horizon, is already quite bright, around at least magnitude 3.7 (close to the brightness of Baten Kaitos, zeta (ζ) Ceti. Unfortunately, as it approaches peak brightness on the 23rd, it comes closer to the horizon.


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