Witnessing the evolution of a star

Evolution of a star (© Flickr)

It can take many billions of years for a star to get its act together, for the heavens are in a constant state of flux—at a pace rather a bit too prolonged for mere humans to observe. Yet when this programme was recorded, two Dutch scientists had just reported witnessing the evolution of a star, a famous star.

Because of its incredible brightness and strange behavior, P Cygni in the Cygus constellation has fascinated astronomers for centuries since it was first observed in 1600 by Willem Blaeu, the famous Dutch cartographer. Blaeu’s star-gazing successors today are our guests: Dr. Henny Lamers, professor of astronomy at the Universities of Utrecht and Amsterdam, and Dr. Mart de Groot, director of the Armagh Observatory in Ireland.

Producer: Anne Blair-Gould

Broadcast: February 10, 1992