This week on Looking Up Hal passes along a 'speedy' season's greeting of peace and love.
Well, it’s the season of peace and love, so let’s talk about a very interesting star, Wazn, in the constellation of Columba the Dove. Didn’t know there was a dove up in the sky? No worries, most folks don’t. There is also a telescope and a microscope, but those are for another episode.
Wazn means “the weight” though no one knows what that weight is about or for. Wazn is a relatively cool star, about 12 times bigger than our Sun, and is about 53 times brighter. It’s likely about 2 billion years old, and is not doing too much, as it fuses helium into carbon and other oxygen. Ultimately, it will turn into what astronomers call a planetary nebula, when it puffs out a shell of gas that looks a bit like a planet.
But as a former military cop who wrote a lot of speeding tickets, there is one very strange thing about Wazn I want to bring to your attention. It’s speeding. And by speeding, I mean it is really moving across space. The star is apparently trying to get away from something, because it’s moving at a rate of over 230,000 mph! It’s a good thing it’s 86 ly away, or it might get a ticket.
If you’d like to take a closer look Wazn, 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.