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Twinkle, twinkle little star . . .

The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.” — Carl Sagan, Cosmos Aside from our sun, the stars we see in the night sky are all light-years from Earth. Look into the sky on a clear night, and you will see a few thousand individual stars “twinkling” with just your eyes. The life cycle of a star spans billions of years. A star the size of our sun takes roughly 50 million years to reach main sequence and maintains that level for approximately 10 billion years. Our sun, the closest star to Earth, is categorized as a dwarf and green star - although it seems giant and yellow to us! In fact, every star that you can see in the night sky is bigger and brighter than our sun. Stars are the building blocks of galaxies, of which there are billions in the universe. A galaxy is a system of stars, stellar remnants, interstellar gas, dust, and dark matter held together by gravity. We live in the galaxy called the Milky Way. The Milky Way is part of cluster of around 3,000 galaxies called the Local Group. Astronomers estimate that in our Milky Way galaxy alone, there are about 300 billion stars. The closest galaxy to the Milky Way is Andromeda, which is around 2.6 million light years away from us. If you want to explore stars more, you can become an amateur astronomer - all you need is a clear night sky away from light pollution. Charlotte’s Quest is hosting our next Member’s Only First Friday Fire at 7pm on September 2nd - and the theme is All About Stars! We’re hoping for a clear night so we can look to the East and see the Great Square. This star pattern is part of a constellation- specifically the body of Pegasus, the Winged Horse. On September evenings, The Great Square appears balanced on one corner, looking like a huge, slightly lopsided, diamond shape in the sky. Want to learn more about becoming an astronomer before our First Friday Fire? You can learn more tips and tricks here: Or check out Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson’s reboot of Carl Sagan's "Cosmos," the landmark 1980 PBS series that explored all aspects of the universe. It’s available to rent on Google Play or to stream free on Tubi. And don’t forget to register for our First Friday Fire! The Westminster Astronomical Society will join us to talk all about stars, help us find them in the sky and enjoy an evening beside the campfire. Get your ticket here:

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