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Astr110 Photography Projects, Spring 2009

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Meissa Star (MGC 23448), Rob Heath

Meissa Star

This is the Meissa Star. "Meissa" comes from the Arabic word for "white spot" or "shining"; "the Proudly Marching One" is a more loose translation from Arabic. The Meissa Star is located in the sky near where we would place the head of the constellation shape Orion, a very commonly observed constellation. This star is a burning ball of gas similar to our Sun in composition, both in shape and in physical elements, but many light years further away and possibly even much larger. The burning gas that lights this giant is held in a spherical shape in the same way that our own Sun does: by means of it's own gravity. But this star's gravity isn't only trying to keep it together, its trying to collapse it. What counteracts gravity from destroying this beautiful light is its own pressure of hot gas in its core. Since this large star is surrounded by dimmer, smaller stars (at least from our perspective), it is considered part of an open star cluster, a group of stars with a few hundred others.

This star burns with a blush white color, though reddish in this picture. Though this star looks to be much bigger than its neighbors doesn't mean it actually is; it seems larger because it has been focused and zoomed in on. Along with that, in observing this picture, you might get the impression that this star would be quite simple to see in the sky. However, due to it's distance, which is about 1,000 light years away from Earth, this star is in fact no more than a pin-prick in the sky. Due to it's extreme brightness, this image has been given a lower contrast, as this specific star burns somewhere around 4,400 times brighter than the sun. If we lived closer to Meissa, we might need some better sunglasses and sun block! At least summers might last a bit longer in Michigan.

Arny, Thomas T. Explorations: An Introduction to Astronomy. 4th ed. New York: Mcgraw-Hill, 2006.

Maddalena, Ronald J. Meissa. 1998. 15 Apr. 2009 <http://www.gb.nrao.edu/~rmaddale/Education/OrionTourCenter/meissa.html>.

Kaler, Jim. "Meissa (Lambda Orionis)." . 22 Jan. 1998. 15 Apr. 2009 <http://www.astro.illinois.edu/~jkaler/sow/meissa.html>.

Right Ascension (J2000) 13:26:13
Declination (J2000) -12:37:34
Filters used blue(B), green(V), red(R), and clear(C)
Exposure time per filter 300 seconds in BVR
Date observed

April 2nd, 2009