The star on the right shoulder of the Orion constellation is a red supergiant called Betelgeuse. (Don’t say it three times in a row or Michael Keaton will show up at your door.) This star, one of the brightest in the night sky, is easy to locate because Orion is such an iconic constellation. However, around 700 years ago Betelgeuse began to grow dimmer, and that light (or lack thereof) is only now reaching Earth. The star could be in one of its dimming cycles—Betelgeuse is classified as a variable star, a type known for growing brighter and darker—or it could be about to explode. And because scientists haven’t seen Betelgeuse dim this much in a very long time, they think the end might be near. And when it does go kablooey, which could happen next year or tens of thousands of years from now, it’s going to be about as bright as the full moon and visible even during the daytime.
Beeline over here to look at more space photos.
More Great WIRED Stories