Looking Up: A Big Baby Begs For Attention

Aug 13, 2018

The constellation Aquila as it can be seen by the naked eye.
Credit Till Credner - AlltheSky.com / wikipedia

When you're No. 2 you have to shine a little harder. This week on Looking Up we learn of the 2nd brightest,  but much lesser known star in the constellation Aquila.

If you’ve listened to Looking Up for the past three years or so, you may have noticed that sometimes I talk about really obvious things, like, say, the Moon or the Sun, or Jupiter or Saturn. And other times, I tell you about very obscure things that you likely have never heard of. I do the latter for two reasons. First, I think some of these lesser known things are really cool, and second, it gives you something to talk about at cocktail parties.

This week’s episode is firmly in the latter class, as I want to tell you about the cool star Tarazed, high in southern Colorado skies right now. Never heard of it? That’s ok. Tarazed is the second brightest star in the constellation Aquila, after the brighter and much better-known Altair.

Tarazed is a big baby. It’s only about 100 million years old – only about 2% the age of our Sun. But Tarazed is, well, like I said, it’s a Big baby. It’s 110 times bigger than our Sun, so big that if it swapped places with our Sun, it’s surface would be half way to Earth, and it would cover 60% of the sky. And even though it’s a baby, it’s aging rapidly, and likely will burn out into a white dwarf star long before our Sun is much more than middle aged. Oh and the name Tarazed? It’s Persian, meaning “the Beam of the Scale.” So weigh your options and take a look at the big baby Tarazed.

If you’d like to take a closer look at Tarazed, 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!