As seen on Astronomy Picture of the Day the yellow-red star just over the trees in the constellation of Cetus is the variable star Mira near its brightest. Mira can change from practical invisibility to one of the brighter stars on the sky over the course of a year. Pictured above a castle in Stuttgart, Germany, red giant star Mira appeared near its maximum brightness of magnitude 2 in February 2007. Although similar in mass to our Sun, Mira 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.



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