Binary System

Stargazers is a collection of stories about stars. This is the first story that has been given to me in the form of a poem.

The story looks at the binary star system SS Cygni in the constellation Cygnus. SS Cygni consists of two stars orbiting each other; one large, cool red dwarf, and one small, hot white dwarf. As they orbit each other the denser white dwarf pulls matter from the red dwarf, absorbing it into it’s self. This kind of stellar relationship is called a cataclysmic variable system, a suitable name because they often end dramatically.

I met Christine in Berlin and we got talking about binary stars. Some stars orbit each other peacefully at a respectful distance, some get too close and collide. Some are unbalanced, with one star dominating the other, stealing its matter and leaving it drained. In many ways, these systems make effective analogies of romantic relationships. Christine put words to a situation that I think many of us have experienced, and I now have a new-found empathy for SS Cygni.

Navigating by stars

Thank you to John for this wonderful story about navigating at sea using the stars and a sextant.

Celestial navigation is an art and a science, that has been used by navigators since ancient times. Interestingly, it is still a skill that can come in handy at sea. If your GPS ever fails the stars are always there as a back up, just so long as you can catch a glimpse of them through the clouds!

This animation is part of the Stargazers project for which I am collecting stories about stars. If you have a story that you would like to share with me then please get in touch!