Betelgeuse at its Minimum Brightness

March 25, 2020

Betelgeuse_200215_Orion_widefield (003)

Photographer: Martin Dietzel
Summary Authors: Martin Dietzel; Jim Foster

Featured above is the red supergiant, Betelgeuse, in the constellation of Orion. Betelgeuse has been conspicuously fading the past several months, losing approximately 1 magnitude of brightness from 0.7 in September 2019 to 1.8 in early February. According to several recent studies, the minimum was reached around February 15, 2020, which is when this picture was taken. Note that atmospheric conditions were not perfect, as fog was beginning to form. The origin of this fainting process isn’t fully understood, but Betelgeuse has been observed to fade and brighten for centuries. However, it now appears to be brightening again.

It’s amazing to look up at the heavens and see such a noticeable difference, over a period of weeks, of one of the brightest stars in the night sky. Look for Betelgeuse and Orion in the southwestern sky after nightfall. Photo captured near Heidenheim, Germany.

Photo Details: Canon EOS camera; 40 mm f/4 lens; taken with a tripod only, no tracking mount was used.