Epsilon Aurigae (Vmax = 2.99) is an eclipsing binary star system with the longest orbital period known (27.1 years or 9,886 days). The next eclipse of this unique object is due summer 2009. With such a long orbital period, the actual eclipse might be expected to be short, but is just the opposite, lasting nearly 2 years (ca. 714 days). To a first approximation, this indicates the eclipsing body is of gigantic proportions, on the order of 2,000 solar radii. The exact nature of Eps Aur is still not fully resolved. A successful observing campaign was organized during the last eclipse, 1982-1984. Amateur and pro-fessional astronomers around the world contributed photometry, polarimetry, and spectroscopy data. Despite the strong effort, some questions still remain. Efforts have begun for a new eclipse campaign in 2009-2011. Out-of-eclipse observations are being made. A dedicated web site has been set up as a focal point.
Society for Astronomical Sciences Annual Symposium
- Pub Date:
- May 2006