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Discovery Magazine 6/1/2018


How Big is the Beetle Juice Star?

by  Digger Doug

Dear Digger Doug,

How big is the Beetle Juice Star?
—Nathaniel, age 5.

 

Dear Nathaniel,

I love to look out into the night sky and gaze at God’s amazing stars. There is just something wonderful about them that grabs our curiosity and interest. You have asked about a star named Betelgeuse (although you spelled it as Beetle Juice, which is exactly how it is pronounced but not spelled). This star is in the constellation called Orion. It is the 9th brightest star in the sky and one of the easiest to spot. It has a redish color because it is a star known as a red supergiant. So, how big is this super giant star? Because it is so far away, it is difficult to get an exact size for it. Astronomers (scientists who study stars) think it is about 700 times bigger than our Sun. To help us think about that, approximately one million planet Earths would fit inside the Sun. So about 700 million planet Earths would fit inside Betelgeuse. Now that is a big star. If Betelgeuse replaced the Sun in our Solar System, it would be so large that it would take up the space of the orbits of Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, and probably Jupiter. But even though it is really big, there are bigger stars out there. One star, named UY Scuti, is estimated to be about 1,700 times larger than the Sun. Psalm 8:3-4 says, “When I consider Your (God’s) heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars which You have ordained, what is man that you are mindful of him?” King David, who wrote this psalm, was amazed that God, who created billions of huge stars, still cares about His “tiny” humans on little planet Earth.




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