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2003 eta Carinae Observing

 

Eta Car ImageEta Carinae is one of the most interesting stars in the sky. According to predictions, 2003 could be a very exciting year for observing Eta Car. Below is a list of resources and information that can help you with your observations.

Eta Car (type S Doradus) is a Luminous Blue Variable that historically has shown two types of irregular eruptions - a typical S Doradus-type eruption with a brightening of 1-2 magnitudes in visual wavelength and a duration of years, and a "giant eruption" that shows a significant increase in total luminosity (to that rivaling a supernova) and mass ejection of a solar mass or more. Eta Car has experienced several of these giant eruptions, the most recent being in the 1840's when the star reached magnitude -1 and much of the material we see as the surrounding Homunculus nebula was ejected (Humphreys et al., Publ. ASP, 111,1124 (1999)).

The 5.52-year x-ray eclipse cycle believed to exist in the extremely complex eta Car is expected to produce an x-ray eclipse in late May or mid-July (depending on the model) of 2003. Optical brightening should most probably follow this eclipse, as may be seen in the 1997-2000 visual observations in the AAVSO International Database. (below)

Charts

Designation Name Type Period Range Spectrum Comments Available Charts
1041-59 ETA CAR SD     -0.8 - 7.9 V   PEC(E)    
 A (GIF)  A (PS)  B (GIF)  B (PS)  E (GIF)  E (PS)

These chart links are obsolete (11/2013); create charts using VSP at http://www.aavso.org/vsp

Light curves


Full AAVSO Light Curve for Eta Car (July 24, 1943 - May 20, 2003) eta car AAVSO light curve

Click here to customize this light curve


AAVSO Light Curve for Eta Car - Last 10 Years eta car AAVSO 10-year light curve

Click here to customize this light curve


Historical Observations of Eta Car Eta Car light curve since 1600

Above is from Elias and Francis Loomis on Variable Stars, 1866-69 by Dorrit Hoffleit, Journal of the AAVSO, Vol. 13, No. 2. p 67-77. 1984. Click here for full ADS entry and scanned article.


Astronomy Magazine 150+ year light curve of Eta Car eta car AAVSO light curve

Used with permission from Astronomy Magazine. Copyright 2000 Astronomy magazine.

Observer Images of Eta Car

Cacella - Eta Car Image

Monard - Eta Car Image

Unfiltered CCD Image by Berto Monard (MLF) at Bronberg Observatory, May 16, 2003, 17:11 UT.

AAVSO 49 Bay State Rd. Cambridge, MA 02138 aavso@aavso.org 617-354-0484