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Epsilon Aurigae

In the summer of 2009, the third-magnitude star Epsilon Aurigae will experience its next eclipse. This occurs every 27.1 years and lasts 714 days. The star is over 2000 times larger (by size, not mass) than our Sun and would engulf the Earth if placed in the center of our solar system. Many properties remain unknown; for example, scientists don’t know if there are two or three or even more stars in the system. There is strange mid-eclipse behavior that cannot currently be explained. During the last eclipse in 1981-1982, a key portion of the light curve was lost as the star passed behind the Sun, making it unobservable from Earth.

In this IYA project, we intend to assemble the largest astronomy research team in history by training interested citizens and amateur scientists and enabling them to make the necessary observations. This archive, to be hosted at the AAVSO, will offer real-time updates and interactivity with the data.

The goal is to actively involve the largest possible number of citizen-scientists in
increasing our knowledge of the Epsilon Aurigae system. Along the way, thousands of citizens will learn about the process of conducting research and will find new ways to increase their science literacy skills.


International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA)