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the brightest star The Sirius team draws inspiration and energy from the the history and myth that link humanity to astronomical Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky. If you are curious to learn more about the star Sirius, please read on...

About Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky

Sirius is visible on the far left of the above photograph, to the left of the constellation of Orion and Comet Hale-Bopp.

Intrinsically, Sirius is over 20 times brighter than our Sun and over twice as massive. As Sirius is 8.7 light years distant, it is not the closest star system - the Alpha Centauri system holds this distinction. Sirius is called the Dog Star because of its prominence in the constellation of Canis Majoris (Big Dog). In 1862, Sirius was discovered to be a binary star system with a (twin) companion star, Sirius B, 10,000 times dimmer than the bright primary, Sirius A. Sirius B was the first white dwarf star discovered, a type of star first understood by Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar in 1930. While studying Sirius in 1718, Edmond Halley discovered that stars move with respect to each other. There is conflicting evidence that Sirius appeared more red only 2000 years ago.


Sirius Defined

Pronunciation: [sir´Eus]
or Dog Star

brightest star in the sky. It is located in the constellation Canis Major (1992 position R.A. 6h44.8m, Dec. -16042'); its Bayer designation is Alpha Canis Majoris. Sirius [Gr.,=scorching], having an apparent magnitude of -1.45, is exceeded in brightness only by the sun, the moon, and Venus and by Mars and Jupiter at their maximum brightness. A white, main-sequence star of spectral class AlV, Sirius is about twice the size of the sun and about 20 times as luminous. It is also one of the nearest stars, lying at a distance of 8.7 light-years, so that it has been studied extensively. From an analysis of its motions, F. W. Bessel concluded (1844) that it had an unseen companion, which was later (1862) confirmed by observation. The companion, Sirius B, is a white-dwarf star and has also been the object of considerable study because it is the first white dwarf whose spectrum was found to exhibit a gravitational red shift as predicted by the general theory of relativity.


The Dog Days of Summer

"Dog days" is the name for the most sultry period of summer, from about July 3 to Aug. 11. Named in early times by observers in countries bordering the Mediterranean, the period was reckoned as extending from 20 days before to 20 days after the conjunction of Sirius (the dog star) and the sun. In the latitude of the Mediterranean region this period coincided with hot days that were plagued with disease and discomfort. The time of conjunction varies with difference in latitude, and because of the precession of the equinoxes it changes gradually over long periods in all latitudes.


A Binary Star System

The Sirius binary star system consists of a main sequence primary star of spectral class A0 (Sirius A) and a white dwarf companion (Sirius B) in orbit around their common center of mass with a period of about 50 years. The system is approximately 8.6 light years from Earth and lies in the constellation Canis Major (the Big Dog). The primary star is the brightest star in our sky other than the Sun.

The motion of the Sirius system about its center of mass causes the proper motion of the two stars across the celestial sphere to wobble. Such motion can be used to detect the presence of an unseen companion. You may illustrate this by using the buttons in the above demo to hide the orbits and to hide Sirius B. The corresponding motion is what we would see for Sirius A if it did not move on the celestial sphere. This motion, coupled with its proper motion, gives the wobbling path noted above. A binary system inferred from such wobbling motion of the primary is called an astrometric binary.

Excerpted from University of Tennessee
Department of Physics and Astronomy


Canis Major, the Large Dog near Orion the Hunter

Canis Major, the Large Dog, is one of the hunting dogs of Orion the Hunter, and can be found just near Orion in the night sky. Like Orion, it is prominent in our evening skies during summer. The brightest star in the sky, Sirius, can be found in this constellation. This star is sometimes called the 'Dog Star'.

This prominent star was important to many cultures. To the ancient Egyptians, the arrival of Sirius in the pre-dawn sky signalled the start of the flooding season for the Nile river, upon which all of their agriculture depended.

Sirius is one of the closest stars to our solar system at 8.5 light-years. It shines with a pure white light. What is less obvious about Sirius is that it is a double star system. The smaller star in the system, Sirius B, is a white dwarf star, and tiny, incredibly dense star that has used up its nuclear fuel and now shines only due to its high temperature.

Sirius B can only be seen with a telescope, and even then few backyard astronomers can identify it. About 40 above Sirius is the open cluster M41. This is a good cluster to look for, as it is visible to the naked eye and identifiable as a cluster with binoculars. It is half a degree across and contains around 100 stars, roughly half of which can be seen through binoculars. This cluster is about 2 400 light-years away.

Excerpted from Melbourne Planetarium


Known to Romans, Greeks, and Early Egyptians

The star name Sirius seems to come from an ancient Greek word for "scorching" or "sparkling."

The dog days are named for the Dog Star -- the brightest star in the sky -- Sirius in the constellation Canis Major, the Greater Dog. Sirius is the brightest star visible from either of Earth's hemispheres. It's prominent in the evening during the northern hemisphere winter. But its appearance in the summer has also been noticed for many thousands of years. Around this time of year, after being behind the sun for awhile, the Dog Star reappears before dawn.

Early Egyptians noticed that Sirius always rose before the sun just before the annual flood of the River Nile. This yearly flood was important to Egyptian agriculture -- so the return of Sirius was a welcome event. Meanwhile, early Greeks and Romans had a different impression of the Dog Star. At this time of year, Sirius travels across the sky with the sun during the daylight hours. The ancients believed that the combination of the sun and Sirius actually caused the hot weather. The dire influence of the Dog Star was said to cause fever in men -- and madness in dogs.

Excerpted from Earth & Sky


The Ancient DOGON Tribe and the Sirius Mystery

THE DOGON occupy a region in Mali, south of the Sahara Desert in Africa. They live in the Homburi Mountains near Timbuktu. At the center of their religious teachings is the knowledge of a Sirius B, a white dwarf, although small and faint is extremely dense and heavy enough to exert an influence on Sirius A. The Dogon name for Sirius B is Po Tolo. Tolo means Star. Po means smallest seed.

They go on to say that it has an is elliptical orbit, with Sirius A at one foci of the ellipse (as it is), that the orbital period is 50 years (the actual figure is 50.04 +/- 0.09 years), and that the star rotates on its own axis (it does).

They have described perfectly the DNA type eliptical orbit that the 2 make around each other. That has been confirmed by modern day scientists.

The Dogon also describe a third star in the Sirius system, called "Emme Ya" ("Sorghum Female"). In orbit around this star, they say, is a single satellite. To date, Emme Ya has not been identified by astronomers.

In addition to their knowledge of Sirius B, the Dogon mythology includes Saturn's rings, and Jupiter's four major moons. They have four calendars, for the Sun Moon, Sirius, and Venus, and have long known that planets orbit the sun.

The strange part is that Western astronomers didn't find the star until the middle of the nineteenth century, and most are certain that no previous explorers to the region could have informed them of it. It wasn't even photographed until 1970. This star has formed the basis of the most sacred DOGON beliefs since antiquity.

They claim that a long time ago a space ship with 3 triangular legs landed. The DOGON call the creatures the NOMMOS, who have to live in water. The beings were human looking. They put out a reservoire of water onto the earth. They dove out into the water. They were aquatic....more to the point amphibious. They could walk and talk and live on the earth but they could also live in an aquatic environment. They believe the Nommo will return to the earth one day.

This tribe has some amazing facts they say they gathered from these visiting extra-terrestrials. The know, that Sirius A, the brightest sky in our sky is next to a small white dwarf called Sirius B. Sirius B was not discovered by our scientists until 1978. The Dogon tribe knew about it 1,000 years ago or longer.

There are many serious references throughout all of the drawings of the cuneiforms of the ancient civilizations to human looking beings who have feet but who are portrayed as having a large fish skin running down their bodies.

The DOGONs may presently be the last people on Earth to worship extra-terrestrial amphibians who landed in the Persian Gulf at the dawn of civilization, and whose presence can be detected in drawings and legends of the gods of ancient Babylonia, Egypt and Greece.

Excerpted from Crystalinks


The Sun behind the Sun, Osiris, and the Great Pyramid

The Principle of All Things. Beyond the Sun in the direction of the Dog Star lies that incorruptible flame or Sun, Principle of All Things, willing obedience from our own Sun but which is but a manifestation of its relegated force. The existence of the Sun behind the Sun has been known in all ages, as well as the fact that its influence is most potent upon earth during that period every 2000 years when it is in conjunction with the Sun of our solar system. Then gathering to itself the power of its own Source and transmitting it through our Sun to this planet, it is said to send the Sons of God into the consciousness of the earth sphere, that a new world of thought and emotion may be born in the minds of men for the stimulation of humanity's spiritual evolution. Such a manifestation marks the beginning or end of an epoch upon the earth by the radiation of that divine consciousnss known as the Christ Ray or Paraclete.

To the Egyptians the Sun behind the Sun was known as Osiris (and also as Amen-Ra, The Hidden Sun), said to be the husband of Isis (Nature) and the parent of Horus (the Sun), symbolically represented as a hawk because that bird flies nearest the Sun. This ancient people knew that once every year the Parent Sun is in line with the Dog Star. Therefore, the Great Pyramid was so constructed that, at this sacred moment, the light of the Dog Star fell upon the square "Stone of God" at the upper end of the Great Gallery, descending upon the head of the high priest, who received the Super Solar Force and sought through his own perfected Solar Body to transmit to other Initiates this added stimulation for the evolution of their Godhood. This then was the purpose of the "`Stone of God,' whereon in the Ritual, Osiris sits to bestow upon him (the illuminate) the Atf crown or celestial light." "North and South of that crown is love," proclaims an Egyptian hymn. "And thus throughout the teaching of Egypt the visible light was but the shadow of the invisible Light; and in the wisdom of the ancient country the measures of Truth were the years of the Most High (Marshall Adams,
The Book of the Master," page 141-2)."

Modern science partially confirms these facts as to the significance of the Great Pyramid, but lacks the key to them. Dr. Percival Lowell, in a recent essay entitled "Precession and the Pyramids," says-- "The Great Pyramid was in fact a great observatory, the most superb one every erected," and "The Great Gallery's floor exactly included every possible position of the Sun's shadow at noon from the year's beginning to its end. We thus reach the remarkable result that the gallery was a gigantic gnomon or sundial telling, not like ordinary sundials the hour of the day, but on a more impressive scale, the seasons of the year."

Excerpted from the Comte de Gabalis,
originally by the Abbe N. do Montfaucon de Villars (1670),
published with a Commentary (1914, 1922), pages 88-90.

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