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The North Star is closer than previously thought
12-09-2012, 04:10 AM #1
Octo Mother Superior
Posts:42,976 Threads:1,473 Joined:Feb 2011
Andrew Fazekas

for National Geographic News

Published December 4, 2012

The North Star has been a guiding light for countless generations of navigators. But a new study reveals that its distance to Earth may have been grossly overestimated.

In fact, the North Star—also called Polaris—is 30 percent closer to our solar system than previously thought, at about 323 light-years away, according to an international team who studied the star's light output.

Using Russia's 6-Meter Telescope, the researchers were able to calculate the North Star's distance from our solar system by analyzing its spectrum of light and obtaining data on its temperature and changes in intrinsic brightness over time.

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/...ce-science
12-09-2012, 04:44 AM #2
オタマジャクシ Member
Posts:1,310 Threads:32 Joined:Nov 2012
That is scary. 30% error isn't much better than guessing.

Actually it is worse than that - Hipparcos was designed to do parallax measurements (viewing the object from the opposite sides of earth's orbit and estimating the distance from the angle difference, the way an Army range finder used to work). This is a direct measurement not an estimate like red shift (expansion doppler effect). It is supposed be able to measure stars up to 1600 light years away. Polaris is in the middle of its range and the error was supposed to be less than 10%. The satellite finished its mission in 1993, the star catalog was published in 1997 and Hubble confirmed errors in its measurements in 2005.

WTF. They knew the data was wrong almost a decade ago! What took so long? If astronomers can't get the easy stuff right what else have they got wrong???



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