December Night Sky 2020

So the nights are drawing in and in as we get closer to the festive season, and though Christmas might not be quite the same as usual this year, there’s still plenty to celebrate. One great socially distanced activity you can do is stargazing! It’s outdoors and doesn’t require a group, and so you can easily go out and have a wee look up at the stars – just make sure to wrap up warm at this time of year!

A new ultra-compact binary star

Approximately every other star in the Milky Way galaxy is in a ‘binary’ system. These binaries are made up of two stars orbiting around a common centre of gravity. The time taken for the stars in the binary to make one revolution is called the ‘orbital period’. Binaries have a wide range of orbital period. The closest stellar system to the Sun is alpha Centauri which has two stars not unlike our Sun orbiting around one another every 80 years. A third member of the system, Proxima Centauri, which is much smaller red dwarf star, orbits around these two stars once every 10,000 years.