Menkalinan (Beta Aurigae)
Menkalinan (Beta Aurigae) is the third brightest star in the constellation Auriga;
its Arabic name (also written as Menkarlina) means "the shoulder of the
rein-holder." Menkalinan lies just 0.5 arc-minute away from the solstitial
colure, the great circle in the sky that
passes through both celestial poles and the summer and winter solstices.
Menkalinan is a binary system consisting of two almost identical subgiant
A stars in a tight orbit that, every 3.96
days, results in a partial eclipse of one star by the other by about a tenth
of a magnitude. The twins, each about 48 times more luminous than the Sun,
are separated by only about one-fifth the distance between the Sun and Mercury.
So close are they, that they distort each other into an ellipsoidal shape
through mutual tides. A faint red dwarf,
well below naked-eye visibility, appears to orbit the pair at least 330 AU
||R.A. 05h 59m 32s,
Dec: +44° 56' 51"