Y Canum Venaticorum


Y CVn is a carbon star north of beta CVn one binocular field: binoculars. The star is 710 light years away.

There will be no doubt when you've spotted Y CVn; its vivid shade of red has inspired its name -- ‘La Superba’.

The colour is caused by an over-supply of carbon. Carbon stars are in the latter stages of evolution, and are rapidly losing their mass. It will eventually form a planetary nebula, with a white dwarf at its centre.

At 2800 K, it is one of the coolest stars known. It is also enormous with a breadth of 2 AU (i.e, twice the distance from the Earth to the Sun).

The visual magnitude of Y CVn varies from naked-eye visibility 4.7 to about 6.1. At its brightest it is a tiny point of brilliant red, an unforgettable sight.

The star is classified a ‘semi-regular’ which means its period isn't consistent. However, while once thought to be around 160 days, its period has been recently updated to 251 days. So if the star eludes your binocular search, keep trying. It's a real gem.

Just off the western edge of the binocular view is M106, usually described as "a bright spiral galaxy", however with an apparent magnitude 9.1 the bigger the telescope the better, as it is seen nearly edge-on.

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