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Beta Aurigae, 34 Aurigae

Proper NameMenkalinan
Bayer DesignationBeta Aurigae
Flamsteed Number34 Aurigae
HR (BSC)2088
Right Ascension5h 59m 32s
Declination+44° 56' 51"
Distance81 light years
25 parsecs
MagnitudeApparent: +1.9
Absolute: -0.1
Spectral ClassA2V white main sequence star
Optimum VisibilityJanuary
NotesMenklinan is a triple system, at the heart of which is a binary pair of white stars in a very close mutual orbit just 0.08 AU apart - so close that each of the two stars is physically deformed by the gravitational effects of the other. The third member of the system is a much fainter red dwarf in a wide orbit around the central pair.

After Capella, Menkalinan is the second brightest of Auriga's stars. It is a binary star more than eighty light years from the Solar System.

Image of Menkalinan

A pair of dancing stars: at the core of the Menkalinan system are twin white stars circling a common centre of gravity. The event shown here happens once every 47½ hours: from the Earth, one star appears to partially eclipse the other, causing a slight loss in magnitude.


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