Lacerta – the lizard

April 30, 2017

Astronomy

lizardThere is a small constellation near Cassiopeia which looks like her but is a smaller “W” shape. It is Lacerta, which means lizard. It is considered part of the Perseus Group even although there is no lizard in that story. Johannes Hevelius named it in the late 1600’s, I guess because it just sounded cool and because the little critters are kind of adorable. Maybe the W reminded him of how the lizards wriggle along. The ancient Chinese called it the flying serpent, so you can exchange the wings for legs and there you go.

lac

There is a star in Lacerta named EV Lacertae which is a flare star. Flares from our own sun erupt occasionally, sending huge plumes of hot hydrogen out into space, sometimes clobbering Earth in the process. Because the various parts of the sun don’t all spin at the same rate, the magnetism gets tangled up like a mistreated Slinky spring. Eventually the spring energy fights back and tries its best to uncoil. You want to be standing way back when that happens.

mass-ejection

The atmosphere on Earth and Venus do okay in spite of the violent outbursts. How do we protect ourselves? The answer is the same as for most of life’s mysteries. Magnets. Our own humongous planet magnets. But Mercury and Mars not so much. Meanwhile EV Lacertae is spinning extremely fast, tangling the magnetism to extremes, and also it’s a rather young and rebellious tantrum-prone little brat. Like that toddler in the toy aisle. I suggest we ignore it.

kirkandgorn

Carpe Noctem

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