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Space

Big Dipper "Star" Actually a Sextuplet System 88

Posted by kdawson
from the toil-and-trouble dept.
Theosis sends word that an astronomer at the University of Rochester and his colleagues have made the surprise discovery that Alcor, one of the brightest stars in the Big Dipper, is actually two stars; and it is apparently gravitationally bound to the four-star Mizar system, making the whole group a sextuplet. This would make the Mizar-Alcor sextuplet the second-nearest such system known. The discovery is especially surprising because Alcor is one of the most studied stars in the sky. The Mizar-Alcor system has been involved in many "firsts" in the history of astronomy: "Benedetto Castelli, Galileo's protege and collaborator, first observed with a telescope that Mizar was not a single star in 1617, and Galileo observed it a week after hearing about this from Castelli, and noted it in his notebooks... Those two stars, called Mizar A and Mizar B, together with Alcor, in 1857 became the first binary stars ever photographed through a telescope. In 1890, Mizar A was discovered to itself be a binary, being the first binary to be discovered using spectroscopy. In 1908, spectroscopy revealed that Mizar B was also a pair of stars, making the group the first-known quintuple star system."

Comment: Henri Poincare: La Valeur de la Science (Score 1) 451

by Mike-the-Mikado (#27837159) Attached to: Classic Books of Science?
This book (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Value_of_Science) published in 1905 provides a fascinating insight into the state of physics just prior to the breakthroughs of relativity and quantum mechanics. A few chapters appear dated, but most is well-worth reading. It appears to be freely available in French (and relatively easy reading). I have not seen any free translations into English.

Simplicity does not precede complexity, but follows it.

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