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©2011 by Richard Nolle

WOW! JAN 24, 2011 - Tatooine's Twin Suns is the latest media flap with an astronomer at the bottom of it all. Last week, it was a bozo astronomer who didn't know any better talking about the difference between signs and constellations. This time around it's a real astronomer whose words got all twisted around by media sensationalism, to the point that it came out sounding like some kind of wacky Mayan doomsday stuff about the supergiant red star Betelgeuse going supernova and giving us Earthlings two suns in our sky. (If you were under any illusion that Huffington Post is an authoritative source about anything, consider that they too were taken in by this nonsense.) C'mon, people! Betelgeuse is over 600 light years away. If it blows up tomorrow, we won't know about it for more than six centuries - way too late for the Mayan Apolcalypse, unfortunately. And if it blew six centuries ago, such that the light was about to reach us next month or next year, the fact remains that it wouldn't be anywhere near as bright as our own friendly neighborhood star. Yes, it might be visible during the daytime. So is Venus at times, and so is the moon regularly. No, there won't be two Suns. At least, not because of Betelgeuse - which will surely someday go supernova, but won't cook us or blind us or black hole us to death. These scary stories are fun, but they always end up being a let-down once the truth outs. The fact is that we'd all thank our lucky stars to see Betelgeuse go supernova - what a spectacle, perfectly safe from 600 light years away, but wonderfully dramatic.

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