Mira mira Mira
As appeared on Astronomy Picture of the Day prominent stars of Taurus and the Pleiades star cluster are visible at left of this autumn night view from Hungary. Dazzling planet Jupiter is at top and below it is the large but faint constellation of Cetus, the Whale. TWAN photographer Tamas Ladanyi shows his daughter a special star in Cetus and he has named his daughter after this famous variable star Mira. The yellow-red Mira is shining at its brightest in this image. Over the course of a year Mira or Omicron Ceti can change from dim magnitude 9 (invisible to human eye) to one of the brighter stars in this part of the sky (magnitude 2-3). Although similar in mass to our Sun, Mira’s tenuous and cool atmosphere could extend out past the orbit of Mars and achieve a luminosity over 10,000 times greater than our Sun. Mira is near the end of its life and its variability is somewhat erratic. In October 2011, Mira shone at a rare magnitude 2.3, brightest since February 2007. The title “Mira mira Mira” is the Spanish translation for Mira watches Mira!