Moon and Elnath

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Moon and Elnath

The names of the stars that are visible in the night sky can be obscure. But that’s not the case for the star known as Elnath. The name comes from Arabic, and it means “the butting one.” That makes perfect sense when you consider that it forms the tip of one of the horns of Taurus, the bull. It’s the second brightest star in the constellation.

Elnath is quite impressive. It’s about five times the mass of the Sun, more than four times wider than the Sun, and about 700 times brighter. Its surface is much hotter than the Sun’s, so Elnath shines almost pure white. And the star is only about 100 million years old, compared to four and a half billion years for the Sun.

Look for Elnath near the crescent Moon the next couple of nights, quite low in the early evening sky. It’s above the Moon tonight, and closer to the lower right of the Moon tomorrow night.

Elnath was the favorite star name of Sandy Wood, my predecessor as the host of Star Date. After first hearing the name, she jokingly decided that she wanted to be called “the butting one,” and often signed her emails to colleagues as simply “Nath.”

Sandy passed away earlier this year. She was with Star Date for 28 years and more than 10,000 episodes. She won fans around the country and around the world. Her warmth, kindness, and giddy sense of humor were legendary. A friend and colleague perhaps described her best: She was joy in human form. Sandy Wood will be missed — and remembered.

Script by Damond Benningfield

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