Finale – The Constellation Capricorn.

A little bit of housekeeping is in order. Technically speaking I probably should have started with Capricorn but given Aquarius is in January I started with that. Nonetheless, the Sun in our series will have gone through all the signs of the zodiac on its journey around the ecliptic.

As we have started housekeeping I may continue, the astronomical name is actually Capricornus and astrology has popularised its nomenclature as Capricorn. I call it Capricorn, NASA calls it Capricorn so the name stands as with Scorpius being known more widely as Scorpio.

Capricorn is known as the “horned goat” or “great horns” and is actually quite faint. It is visible to the naked eye although the stars are quite hard to see and none of them exceed a magnitude of 3. In astronomy magnitude is used to define a star’s brightness given its distance from a numerical scale.

Capricorni is the brightest star, a stellar giant that has exhausted its supply of hydrogen in its core. In this regard, it is approaching the end of its life. It could be millions of more years into the future but one day the brightest star in Capricorn will have burst in a supernova explosion.

At that time Capricorn will still look like Capricorn does now although it’s brightest object will be a supernova remnant or Nebula should the explosion gas have sufficient mass to collapse into another star.

Beta Capricorn is a multiple star system inside the boundary of Capricorn and has 4 stars that we can see. This stellar system alongside Capricorni make up the horns of Capricorn. Neither star has a confirmed planet but it is highly expected that they do so. Wether these stars have life harbouring planets is unlikely due to their larger and hotter stars.

Through the eye of a telescope, Capricorn has a large galaxy group in its boundaries. HCG 87 is the name of the group and it has a large face on spiral galaxy the same as the Milky Way and an elliptical galaxy. The spiral galaxy has a high rate of star formation meaning it could be interacting with other members of the group.

Galaxies can merge into others. Eventually our galaxy will merge into the Andromeda Galaxy, known in astronomy as the Milkomeda galaxy of the future. This collision won’t happen for another few billion years. As interesting as it sounds, the stars in both galaxies are at vast distances and the chances of collision are actually quite low.

So there we have it! All the constellations and the wonders within. I can’t stress enough that impossibly distant stars do not have en effect on our mood, personality and wellbeing. We can take responsibility for that ourselves here on Earth, within the bounds of reality.

Jude Morrow

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