More observations have now confirmed that Betelguese is once again brightening, as predicted.
Photometry secured over the last ~2 weeks shows that Betelgeuse has stopped its large decline of delta-V of ~1.0 mag relative to September 2019. The star reached a mean light minimum of = 1.614 +/- 0.008 mag during 07-13 February 2020. This is approximately 424+/-4 days after the last (shallower: V ~ +0.9 mag) light minimum was observed in mid-December 2018. Thus the present fading episode is consistent with the continuation of the persistent 420-430 day period present in prior photometry.
In other words, the star’s dimming, though deeper than earlier dips, was right in line with a well-known variation cycle. While absolutely worth close observation and study, the data now strongly suggests that this is relatively normal behavior for this aging red giant star. It will likely go supernova sometime in the future, not likely now.
From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.
Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.
The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.
He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.
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