Is our solar system typical? No! Astronomers find that most stars have companions; binary or multiple-star systems. The stars are in an orbital dance. Although the sun probably formed as part of an open star cluster, the stars have drifted apart and the sun was left alone. Although stars in multiple-star systems often have planets, the impact of the gravity from a second star may make conditions for life more challenging.

Binary stars are stars that orbit each other. Some stars appearing together from our perspective are actually thousands of light-years apart. These are double stars. You can see one with just your eyes in the hump of the Big Dipper’s tail. The stars are Alcor and Mizar and can be seen rising low in the northeast around 9 p.m.

To see the wonders of the sky, come to the observatory’s Public Night on the first Friday of each month from sunset to 10 p.m.

Aaron Clevenson
Author: Aaron ClevensonEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
I am the observatory director at the Insperity Observatory in Humble ISD. I am also an adjunct astronomy professor at Lone Star College-Montgomery where I teach solar system astronomy and stars and galaxies astronomy. I am the author of the astronomy textbook, “Astronomy for Mere Mortals.” I am a past president of the North Houston Astronomy Club, and was the chair of Astronomy Day in Southeast Texas in 2015 and 2016. He is an observing program director with The Astronomical League, coordinates their Master Observer Progression Awards, and has authored six of their observing programs.

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