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Mira Ceti

Last night I woke in the early hours and looked out through the window, up at the clear sky.  The pulsating star Mira Ceti was brighter than I ever remember seeing it back when I was an active observer of variable stars.  I judged it be slightly brighter than Alpha Ceti (mag. 2.5) at about mag. 2.4.  A few nights ago it had been clearly fainter than Alpha at about mag. 2.7.  Maximum is predicted to be in the next week or two, so it will be interesting to see if it continues brightening to near the historical record maximum of mag. 1.7.

The above chart is from Ball's Popular Guide to the Heavens (1905).  Mira Ceti is the small star to the left of the label 'o = Mira (var)'.  At its current brightness it can be compared with the following stars:

  • Alpha Arietis (mag 2.0), the bright star near the top edge
  • Alpha Ceti (mag 2.5), the bright star near the left edge
  • Beta Arietis (mag 2.7), near Alpha Arietis
  • Gamma Ceti (mag 3.5), near Alpha Ceti
  • Alpha Piscium (mag 3.8), the 3-pronged star just right of centre
  • Delta Ceti (mag 4.1), midway between Alpha Ceti and Mira

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