Betelgeuse, a bright reddish star in the constellation Orion. It is about 495 light-years from the earth, though some measurements put it at about 640 light-years away. Its color indicates a relatively low surface temperature of about 5,000° F. (2,800° C.), about half that of the sun. Betelgeuse is a variable star that fluctuates irregularly in size and brightness. At its smallest, Betelgeuse has a diameter some 300 times that of the sun; its greatest diameter is about one-third larger than this. Betelgeuse is classified in the group of largest known stars, the supergiants.
Asteroid belts aren't quite the dense fields of gigantic spinning rocks that you may have seen in a "Star Wars" film, but they're still fascinating. In fact, the main asteroid belt may tell us how our entire solar system came into existence.
Sunspots are peculiar dark areas that show up regularly on the surface of the sun -- and often for no reason. What causes them? What effect could these funny little spots have on the Earth?