Introduction

Stars are huge luminous bodies of plasma that occupy the galaxy at large and they appear stationary, but studies have proved that over time, they do move. Babylonian astronomers were among the earliest people to catalogue stars, the most studied star being the sun, which is the closest to earth. Stars appear luminous since they have a natural shine (light) that is due to the fusion of hydrogen into helium in its core, most of time this luminous glow is converted into energy; the main source of energy for the earth is the sun. Other stars can be seen with the naked eye from the earth, but as small fixed points that appear luminous. Zaurak is a star that has been ignored mainly because of ignorance and probably its position from the earth. It is a part of the Eridanus constellation on the western edge and occupies a central position above the river.

Eridanus

This constellation was first documented by a Greek astronomer called Ptolemy who called it Potamous, ’the river’. It is located in the southern hemisphere on the first quadrant, 1138sq degrees between latitude +32 and -90 and belongs to the family of constellations of the heavenly waters (cosmic waters) (Kruse & Dieckvoss). This is a family of constellations that have names related to water. Eridanus is near the Lepus and Fornax constellations, its northern section appears green, and some visible blue outlines are due to Orion, which appears as a blue star. The constellation Eridanus has a story of its own. According to Greek mythology, Phaeton the son of the sun god was struck by the great god Zeus with lightening and fell into the river Eridanus. The story does not begin there, it begins with a journey. Aratus is a famous Greek poet named eratus.

The Journey

Helios, the sun god, had daughters who were called the Heliades and a son called Phaeton. One day, his son phaeton begged him to let him ride the sun chariot; in later years Pindar was to describe it as a chariot drawn by fire darting seeds (Kruse & Dieckvoss). Helios, the sun god, feared that his son was not strong enough to handle the reigns, but after much pleading the sun god Helios conceded, but only on condition that he, Phaeton stuck to the tracks that he, Helios used (later to be called the path of souls). Phaeton started his journey with a lot of excitement, which might have been the reason as to why he lost control of the reigns. The chariot started swerving and in the process scorched both heaven and the earth drying up lands and cooling heavens. Zeus the great god saw what had happened and in order to prevent even greater disaster, he struck phaeton dead with lightening. At the time, phaeton was above a river, which he fell into later to be called po. According to the legend, Helios was so distraught that he did not ride his chariot for a couple of days and the earth was in total darkness. Phaetons sisters moaned the most since they were the ones who had convinced him to ride the chariot.

The Name Eridanus

The constellation takes its name from an ancient city that is south of Babylonia, Eridu. This city was held sacred to the god Enki-Ea. The po river, a representative of the Eridanus is in the northern of Italy and runs from North to South. The constellation was called Eridanus since its stars trace a tortuous path that resembles a river. Eridanus has six major stars and is the sixth largest in the galaxy. It has also been referred to as the Nile River, river Euphrates as well as the river formed by the tears wept by the Heliades, because of its position, the direction it faces as well as the river flow. Examples of other stars in the constellation is Acherner, which is the brightest of them all, Alpha Endani with magnitude of 0.445 and Sindra, which has a blue colour.

Zaurak

Na’ira al zaurak is an Arab name meaning the brightest one in the boat this was according to medieval Arab astronomers.

Other Names of Zaurak

Zaurak is widely known as Gamma Eridani a name that was designated from Johann Bayer a German cartographers’ law.

Cyambae, the Latin from Lucinda cyambae and head of the phoenix. The constellation was seen to resemble a phoenix and the zaurak star was right at the head of it. John Flamstead named it the 34 Eridani

 
 

Position

Zaurak is a unique star that is on the western edge of the Eridanus constellation. According to the Hipparchus astrometry satellite, Zaurak has a magnitude of +2.95. From the sun, it has a parallax of 14.75, R.A proper motion is 60.51 mass per year while its Dec. proper motion is estimated to be approximately -111.34 mass per year. According to Lowry, (1989)  Zaurak has 221 life years, and its abs mag is -1.21.It has an equinox of 2000, a declination of 13 degrees 30’ 31” and a spectral of type m0.5 iii ca-icr.

Description

Zaurak is usually seen as a big bright red (some astronomers mistake the red light for orange and at times yellow which s the appearance of the constellation) mass that emits a luminous light, and is among the bright red giants of class m (m0.5). Its infra-red light is estimated to be 860 times that of the sun giving it a temperature close to 3850k; moreover, it emits a lot of energy in the form of heat that could probably scorch some areas of the earth’s hemisphere. It has a high velocity of 74 kilometers per second, higher than that of the sun, its red velocity is 62 kilometers per second with an unknown mass estimated to be more than twice that of the sun. According to Ray et al., Zaurak has 150 light years from the earth, and has a small faint companion star that very little is known of, hence making it a binary star and the third brightest behind Cursa. It has a solar radius of 66times. Not much information is available with relation to Zaurak

Zaurak’s Life Cycle

Stars evolve and age thus undergoing a change that is called the evolutionary track. Like all stars, Zaurak’s luminous is due to the helium in the core from the thermonuclear fusion of hydrogen. It might be a hard fact to believe or understand, but just like humans, stars are born, they live and eventually die. A cloud of hydrogen gas known as nebula fusses to for a star. There are different types of the nebula with reference to the kind of stars that they for e.g. the orion nebula which glows brightly. A stars life cycle is determined by the size of the star since the greater the star the more hydrogen is used up for energy as well as luminosity.

Big stars often have a horrible end, but smaller stars like the sun or even smaller often have a gradual peaceful death; this shows that small stars can live for billions of years while big stars live less than a million years. Before the end, a big star swells up into a red giant that later turns into a white dwarf. Once the hydrogen in the Zaurak (star) exhausted, elements that are relatively heavier than helium are created through fusion in a method called supernova (Lowry). Internal helium is then converted into carbon creating a carbon helium core, with time, the star becomes cooler and larger, it reaches that point, and a star has reached the end of its life. After the helium phase, it does not take long for a star to shed its outer layers. Zaurak has yet a couple more years to go before then but is nearing the end of its life cycle.

Summary

This luminous red star is sometimes mistaken as orange colored; probably due to ignorance is a masterpiece of the universe. Zaurak is bigger and hotter than the sun with a temperature of 3850kalvin, has a magnitude of +2.95, right ascension of 3h 58m 1.7s (Lowry). Through nuclei fusion, stars are able to generate their energy which can be transferred to the neighboring star as in the case of the sun and the earth, i.e. some stars get their energy from surrounding bodies and stars. Once a star nears death, it produces stellar wind due to the loss of mass on its surface, e.g. from a red giant to a white dwarf; just like any other living thing, the stars fight for their lives till the end, the outer layers of a star that are lost are called a planetary nebula. The stars are very different from planets mainly due to the fact that planets move constantly. Stars move a distance of a second of an arc per year and in most cases often referred to as stationary objects.

Conclusion

Stars are a very interesting part of the galaxy system, and their study has better been enhanced through the use of instruments that enable us to view objects that are too far from the naked eye. Stars are grouped into constellations, which are made up of stars that form a pattern, in particular the Zaurak star a member of the Eridaus constellation, which has been ignored for years. Though its last stages of life, more than a few things can be learnt from this fascinating star, since it is unique and yet has some properties that are somewhat familiar to us with reference to other stars. It can be used to learn more about stars that are yet to be discussed at large. The strong influence exerted by the sun and the moon is due to the fact that they both have a wide orb. Some religions use the stars; some of the well known stars to predict future occurrences as well as explaining why certain things have happened the way they do e.g. Hindus have often referred to the stars when it comes to marriage and other family ties. Most of their important decisions are dictated by the stars. Others have so much belief in the stars that if you do not share the same star with them, they would go to the extent of mistrusting you instantly. Zaurak is an exception of this criticism though, a good topic for small talk as well as intellectual talk.

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