History of the "New Star."

The name "new star" is unfortunate as it starts the inquirer on a false track. The object in Perseus is, in all probability, an old star with a new and temporary brilliancy. The star has always existed in its present place in the heavens. Its temporary brilliancy makes it new.

In November, a star of the sort was observed by Tycho Brahe. It was, at first, equal to Jupiter in brightness. For a few days it increased so as to rival Venus, and was visible in the daytime. After some three weeks it began to fade, and by March of 1574 it was no longer visible to the naked eye. In the situation described by Tycho there is now a very faint star visible only in telescopes. To Tycho and his contemporaries this object was a "new" star. They had only catalogued a few of the many stars visible to the naked eye. In a place where there was no star laid down in their catalogues an object suddenly appeared, waxed brilliant, and disappeared utterly.

Many stars of the kind have appeared since Tycho's day. In all likelihood every such appearance was due to a change in the light of a previously existing small star. Such objects do not disappear utterly. They remain in their former situations with greatly diminished light. They have gone through a cycle of brilliancy from feeble light to feeble light again. A sudden change of the sort suggests a sudden catastrophe. What is the cause of this catastrophe? This is the crux of the whole matter. To understand the question, let us take the history of the new star of 1892 as an example.

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March 7, 1901

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