Holberg Jay B. - Sirius Brightest diamond in the night sky

Author : Holberg Jay B.
Title : Sirius Brightest diamond in the night sky
Year : 2007

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Introduction. This book was written to tell two stories. The first and most obvious is why the star known as Sirius has been regarded as an important fixture of the night sky by many civilizations and cultures, since the beginnings of history. A second, but related, narrative is the prominent part that Sirius has played in how we came to achieve our current scientific understanding of the nature and fate of the stars. These two topics have a long intertwined history, and the telling of one story eventually leads back to the other. Presently, new observations from space are revealing, in precise terms, how stars like Sirius and the sun have evolved and what they will ultimately become, while at the same time answering some of the age-old questions about Sirius. The introduction to this book is a particularly good place to establish some of the well-known facts regarding Sirius. Of all the fixed stars in the night sky, Sirius is by far the brightest—almost twice as bright as its nearest rival, the star Canopus, which resides too far south to be viewed over much of the northern hemisphere. Only the sun, the moon, and at times the planets Venus, Jupiter, and on rare occasions Mars, appear brighter. Sirius, with its flashing brilliance, is a striking feature of the northern winter sky and has understandably drawn the attention of observers of the heavens for thousands of years. Sirius can be easily seen over most of the surface of the earth, except for a zone north of the Arctic Circle, where it never rises. Every year Sirius emerges from the glare of the sun in late July, and by year's end it hangs on the meridian at midnight. In late May it disappears from view, rejoining the sun for a period of slightly over two months. It was around this annual coming and going that certain ancient cultures and civilizations organized their religious year, and synchronized their calendars with the agricultural cycles. It was also surrounding Sirius that a host of elaborate legends and beliefs came into being. ...

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