Strange nights in Orion

I started getting into astronomy a bit over half a century ago, so I’ve looked at Orion a lot. It’s so interesting to see Betelgeuse dimming recently. It’s gone from 11th brightest to 24th, as of mid-Feb 2020. By my eye, it’s now about the same as Bellatrix, Orion’s other shoulder.

Compares brightness of Betelgeuse in 2014 and 2020
Compares brightness of Betelgeuse in 2014 and 2020, showing dimming

To show the dimming of Betelgeuse, I put together a photo from February 13, 2014 and one from February 20, 2020. Compare Betelgeuse with Bellatrix. You can see that in 2020 they are similar in brightness, but Betelgeuse is much brighter in 2014.

I took the 2014 photo at the cottage east of Parry Sound, but the 2020 one was taken from our yard in Newmarket.

I wasn’t thinking, and took the 2020 image with a 70mm lens, instead of the 17mm I used in 2014. I had to be careful with matching the sizes in the computer, but it went well, so you can see the change in Betelgeuse.

At this time the reason for the dimming is unknown. It could be a newly-ejected dust cloud, or it could be that Betelgeuse is about to go supernova.

Go look next clear night!

Further research:

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