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The amazing star Mira is shining into view this week above Arizona

(NASA Photo)

A most interesting and famous red giant variable star is now brightening and easy to view on these cool and clear October nights.

The star that I am referring to is a star located deep within the constellation of Cetus the whale.

It is known by the name Mira.

It is the first variable star to be discovered and was given the name, Mira (Latin for “wonderful”), first named by the astronomer Hevelius in 1662.

Mira is a complicated binary star system located some 220 light years from us and is made up of a primary red giant star (Mira A) and a small white dwarf companion star (Mira B).

The star’s variability was first noted by astronomer David Fabricus in 1596.

Mira is also know by the name Omicron Ceti and is located in the central region of the constellation.

There is some credible evidence that the variability of Mira was noted by the ancient Chinese and Greeks.

Mira has a variability that takes some 11 months to go from dim to bright and the star has a natural red color to it.

Modern astronomy tells us that the star’s variability is 333 days in length.

Mass is being lost on the primary star at an amazing rate and the star has a long streamer of material in the form of plasma some 13 light years long!

Mira B is pulling off mass from the primary star at a great rate also.

You can actually see the star Mira in our October skies here.

The constellation of Cetus will be rising in the southeast sky after 11 p.m. and should be an easy object to find in our Arizona skies.

Here is what the binary star is thought to look like.

The amazing tail of material coming off the star Mira looks like this.

Enjoy the wonders of the star Mira as it reaches near naked eye visibility by Oct. 24.

To print your own monthly star chart, click here.

To view satellites/dates/times of passage, click here.

Listen to the Dr. Sky Show on KTAR News 92.3 FM every Saturday morning at 3 a.m.

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