Science: Beta Ceti

Immediately after sundown any clear night there apppears in the southwestern sky near the horizon a star of the first magnitude and of the brilliancy of Aldebaran. This is Beta Ceti, formerly on the outermost reaches of the known stellar system, a second magnitude star of the constellation of the Whale. Eighty years ago it suddenly flared up to double its brightness, a fact that our astronomers have just learned (since Beta Ceti is 80 light-years away).

Such sudden increase in brilliancy of fixed stars is not uncommon. Most astronomers believe that...

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