Adam Isacson

Defense, security, borders, migration, and human rights in Latin America and the United States. May not reflect my employer’s consensus view.

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Amazing thing I read this morning

Do you ever wake up too early to get up, but too late to go back to sleep, and end up reading Wikipedia? That happened to me today, and I found this.

Screenshot of linked article excerpt:

"NASA announced in 2017 that it plans to send a spacecraft to Alpha Centauri in 2069, scheduled to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the first manned lunar landing in 1969, Apollo 11. Even at speed 10% of the speed of light (67 million mph), which NASA experts say may be possible, it would take a spacecraft 44 years to reach the constellation, by the year 2113, and will take another 4 years for a signal, by the year 2117 to reach Earth.[138]"
From Wikipedia’s “Alpha Centauri” entry.

Maybe my grandchildren, if they exist and live that long, will see up-close images of another solar system.

Betelgeuse, the rapidly fainting star

I just went outside here in Florida, where I’m visiting relatives, and yes, Betelgeuse, one of the most familiar stars in the northern night sky (it’s in Orion’s shoulder), is way dimmer than it used to be.

I took this shot with my phone. Betelgeuse used to be about as bright as Rigel, the star at the very bottom of the photo:

This all happened quickly: before October, Betelgeuse was near the top ten brightest stars in the sky. Now it’s lower than 20th. Some speculate that the red giant, 600 light-years away, might go supernova. But the dimming has slowed over the past week. Here’s a good explanation in the New York Times.

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