This week, the “Wonderful Star” is expected to reach its peak brightness and should be readily visible to the naked eye.
This Wonderful Star is Mira, located in the constellation Cetus (the whale), and what makes it wonderful is its ability to vary in brightness by some 250-fold over a span of about 332 days, or nearly 11 months. Throughout this period, Mira varies in brightness from ninth magnitude or less (being visible only with a telescope) to third or fourth magnitude (visible without any optical aid). However, we cannot always tell what Mira will do; its peaks have ranged from as dim as seventh magnitude to first magnitude, the virtual equal of Aldebaran, the brightest star in the constellation Taurus.
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