Lepus – the hare

April 9, 2017

Astronomy

hare_01Lepus is a constellation that represents a hare, which is basically a rabbit with longer legs and ears. It’s located right beneath Orion, dangerously close to being stepped on, and dangerously close to his two dogs.

The brightest star in Lepus is named Arneb, which means “hare” (no surprise there). It’s expected to explode at any moment, so let’s keep an eye out for more on that.

The second brightest star in Lepus is named Nihal, which means either “annoyingly happy camels” or “satisfying beverage” or possibly some combination of the two. I’m guessing the origin has something to do with unguarded beer.
lep

m079M79 is a globular cluster which is one we think the Milky Way probably stole from the Canis Major Dwarf Galaxy along with a few other valuables. The jury is still deliberating the evidence for that crime so no clear verdict yet. Most of its stars are red giants and they are somewhat concentrated towards the center, but not overly so, not ridiculously so, just about right I’d say. On the other hand, in an amateur scope it appears shaped overall like a starfish, which is rather ridiculous.

Another interesting attraction in Lepus is Hind’s Crimson Star (R Leporis), which is ridiculously red. It’s all the carbon boiling up from the core into the upper layers that makes it look like a “drop of blood” as Hind actually described it in 1845. It’s also a variable star because the carbon crowds the surface and makes it hard for light to get out. That trapped energy builds up like a pressure cooker and eventually blasts through the shell sending clouds of carbon and other junk into space as part of the galactic recycling program, thus allowing the star to brighten again. The whole dim-bright-dim cycle lasts a bit more than a year. Find Hind’s Crimson Star at its dimmest for the most bloodiest effect.
hare_03
Carpe Noctem

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