December 3, 2008

Latanya Richardson

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Latanya Richardson (born 1949 in Atlanta, Georgia) is an American actress. She graduated from Spelman College in 1974. While at Spelman, she met Samuel L. Jackson who would later become her husband. She and Jackson married in 1981 and have one daughter named Zoe.

Film Roles


Source: Wikipedia

Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

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Chocolate chip cookies represent half of the cookies baked in American homes each year. This chocolate chip cookie recipe will produce a treat that is sure to please everyone in your house!

For some additional tips on baking cookies, see our article on tips for baking cookies.

Ingredients

• 3/4 cup sugar
• 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
• 1 cup butter
• 1 large egg
• 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
• if desired, 1 cup chopped pecans

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix sugar, brown sugar, butter and egg in a large bowl by hand. Stir in flour, baking soda, and salt. The dough will be very stiff. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until light brown. The centers will be soft. Let cool for one minute then remove from cookie sheet and place on wire rack to finish cooling.

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Source: Popular Cookier Recipes

Rockerfeller Center Tree Lighting in its 76th Year

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This December 3rd will see the traditional lighting of the Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center. 2008 marks the 76th annual lighting of the famous tree which is hand selected to ensure the proper shape and quality of the 65 foot (or higher) tree. This year the ceremony will run from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm and typical involves appearances by celebrities and a variety of musical acts.

The setting is spectacular with Rockefeller Plaza all decked out for the Holidays, including the world famous skating Rink at Rockefeller Center. While the ice gets pretty banged up, its an amazing experience to skate in front of a crowd of onlookers with the tree in the background. If you miss the Tree Lighting Ceremony itself don’t worry, a tree that big tends to stick around for a while. This Holiday you will be able to see the tree until January 9th, 2009.

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It is illuminated each day from dawn until well into the night (5:30 am until 11:30 pm), so there are plenty of opportunities to get just the right photo – although it does get crowded, so you may want to drop off any shopping bags at your hotel before you go. While you wait for it to get dark to see the tree lights at full effect, use your NY Explorer Pass to visit sights in the surrounding area like the Top of the Rock Observation Deck or take the Rockefeller Center Tour.


Source: Explorer Pass

Jennifer Hudson's Brother-in-Law Formally Charged with Murders

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Jennifer Hudson's estranged brother-in-law, William Balfour, was formally charged Tuesday with three counts of first degree murder and one count of home invasion in connection to the shooting deaths of the actress' mother, brother and 7-year-old nephew, The Associated Press reports.

Although he has not confessed to the triple homicide, Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weis said he is "confident in the evidence" linking Balfour, who was arrested Monday, to the killings.

Prior to his arrest, Balfour, 27, was only identified as a "person of interest" in the case and was held in custody on a parole violation.

Balfour is the estranged husband of Hudson's sister, Julia.

Darnell Donerson, 57, Jason Hudson, 29, were found shot to death Oct. 24 in Donerson's home, while the body of Julia's son, Julian King, was found three days later in the backseat of an abandoned SUV.

Jennifer Hudson, who took to her MySpace to thank fans for their support, declined to comment on Balfour's arrest, but Deputy Superintendent Steve Peterson said the family was "relieved and happy that the Chicago Police Department would bring this case to a successful conclusion."


Source: Seattle Pi News

Republican Mel Martinez will not seek reelection is 2010

Central Florida Republicans must be reeling.

Ultra-conservative Ric Keller’s surprising loss is probably still fresh news, but now comes the announcement by former Orange County (Orlando area) Chairman and current U.S. Senator Mel Martinez that he is stepping down.

Martinez went from contentious local politician to national player when President Bush chose him to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development in 2001. At the time, his only “national” credentials was having co-chaired Bush's 2000 presidential election campaign in Florida. Speaking with the media in Jacksonville In 2004, he won a close race for the Senate.

Since then, Martinez has done little to distinguish himself. Named general chairman of the Republican Party for the 2007–2008 election cycle, even conservatives were disappointed, partly because of his failure to provide any leadership. Martinez stepped down in October of 2007 from the post.

The Senator also was criticized for several small controversies and for his part in the Terri Schiavo case, where he and two fellow Republicans passed a law (the remaining 97 senators were not present) that was arguably un-Constitutional on several grounds, but which ultimately did nothing to change the outcome of that case.

A re-election bid in 2010 will likely be a difficult proposition. A recent Quinnipiac University poll found that only 36 percent of voters believe Martinez deserves a second term, while 38 percent say that he doesn’t. If the election were held today, more would support the Democratic candidate.

The Senator, however, announced in a press release today that his decision is a personal one, stating “the call to public service is strong, but the call to home, family and lifelong friends is even stronger. “


Source: Examiner

Kevin Federline talks about Britney Spears

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Throughout all the mishegoss over Britney Spears' breakdown, Kevin Federline has, to his credit, kept relatively quiet, letting his lawyer Mark Vincent Kaplan be his mouthpiece (and not just because Kaplan can form sentences that don't involve the words "yo" and "pimp")

Now Federline talks to People magazine (sharing the cover with sons Preston and Jayden) about his marriage, his ex-wife's breakdown, and how he still, yes, loves her. Before their 2006 split, he says they were having problems, and he was concentrating more on his kids than Spears. "I didn't give her an ultimatum, but I was trying to work stuff out with her, and she didn't even talk to me or anything and went behind my back and filed [for divorce]. [I was] completely blindsided."

After Spears started acting more erratically, the former backup dancer says he vowed to "spend every last dime" (all three of them) to make sure he got custody of the kids: "I had to make sure that my children are okay. That's all that mattered. I didn't know how much power Britney had. That really scared me."

Of the night Spears locked herself in the bathroom with Jayden during a custodial standoff with police, after which she wound up in a mental ward: "I was very, very worried for her 'cause I care about her. That's the mother of my children. Just because I'm not in love with her doesn't mean that I don't love her. I'm definitely rooting for her. There's nothing more that I want than for her to be in the best health and doing what she loves to do."

Now under the conservatorship of her father, Jamie, Spears seems to be turning herself around, with a new album, an upcoming tour, and well-received public appearances at the MTV Video Music Awards and on Madonna's >"Sticky & Sweet" tour. She also wears her underwear inside her clothes almost all the time now.

"There's structure over there, there's structure at my house," Federline says. "We're trying to keep the same type of schedule. It doesn't have to be completely perfect, but the foundation is there.

Meanwhile, Spears celebrated her 27th birthday with a circus-themed party in New York Tuesday night, according to Usmagazine.com. The party, an elaborate tie-in to her new album, "Circus," featured a hot dog stand, popcorn and cotton candy machines, jugglers and stilt-walkers, plus guests Lance Bass, Jeremy Piven, Ciara and mom Lynne Spears.

Source: NJ

Circuit City stock: Don't bet on bankruptcies

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Q: If I invest in Circuit City stock (CCTYQ), could I lose my entire investment?

A: Yes. Yes. Yes.

Don't make any mistake about this. You don't want to be like scores of Kmart shareholders who were stunned when that retailer's reorganization completely wiped out their investments.

The five-letter ticker symbol ending in Q tells you the company is in bankruptcy. You can lose your entire investment if any company whose stock you own, not just Circuit City, falls on tough times.

Even if a company emerges from bankruptcy, the SEC says, "in most cases the plan of reorganization will cancel the existing equity stock."

FIND MORE STORIES IN: Kmart | Ask Matt | Circuit City

Again, I'm not picking on Circuit City, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in November and intends to keep operating.

It's true any time you buy common stock. You're what's called an equity investor. If a company falters, reorganizes, files for bankruptcy protection or runs into trouble, you're last in line for claims on the company's assets. What often happens is that investors who bought the company's debt take control of the company and divide the assets, wiping out the common shareholders.

I cannot stress this enough. Please don't act surprised if you buy stock in a struggling company and find that your shares are worthless.

This happens time and time again, and each time, shareholders feel victimized. Certainly, if management misrepresented the company's condition, you would be rightly aggrieved. But if you buy shares in a company knowing it's under stress, you must understand you're gambling. Period.

With that said, I did write a more detailed analysis of Circuit City before the latest trouble. But the basic analysis still holds. Investors beware.


Source: CRN

World's Top 10 futuristic luxury hotels

The fast changing modes of travel would certainly one day make a big dent on the hotel industry. Only those will survive who have something special to offer or, at least, I would never settle down at a place with belts of my flying car or jetpack intact.

The designers of the hotels of tomorrow, perhaps, have kept this in mind while creating futuristic hotels to lure the global nomads, of course, in case the Time Machine doesn’t becomes a reality.

Before moving ahead, please check ‘The lost notebook of Leonardo da Vinci’ - Hotel rooms of the future.

However, for now, here is a brief introduction to ten futuristic hi-tech luxury hotels, which are a living proof of the remarkable change we’re witnessing. Welcome aboard!

10. The Apeiron island hotel

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Designer: Sybarite
Status: Concept
Estimated project cost: $500million

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The ‘Apeiron’ island hotel is a seven star resort with a total floor area of 200,000m�. It is 185-m high and boasts of over 350 luxury apartment suites. The hi-tech futuristic hotel screams of luxury and comfort with its own private lagoon, beaches, restaurants, cinemas, retail shopping, art gallery, spas and conference facilities. Its out of the world design is magnetic enough to deliver a spell-bounded experience to visitors. (Photo Credit: Sybarite)

9. Foldable hotel pods

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Designer: m3 Architects, London
Estimated project cost: $72 to $104 million

The foldable and fully transportable pods are for those traveling geeks who find it hard to shun all the amenities of their luxurious life. You can move the pods to exotic locations around the world and the amazing concept abodes will come with ‘Active’ walls and floors where guests can focus images of their choice and a disposable unit to care of all waste. (Photo Credit: m3architects)


8. The hotel Burj al-Arab

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Location: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Designer: Tom Wright (WS Atkins PLC), Khuan Chew
Status: Complete
Estimated project cost: $650 million
Cost per person: $1,000 to over $28,000 per night, $75 to have a glimpse from inside

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Considered, unofficially, the world’s first and only 7-star hotel, the Burj al-Arab is a truly the most luxurious hotel imaginable and hence we couldn’t help including it in this list of futuristic hotels, which also perhaps triggered architects around the world to look beyond the fence.

The tallest, 321-metres (1,053 ft), hotel, designed as a sail of a dhow, is constructed on an artificial island 280-metres (919 ft) out from Jumeirah beach. The hotel boasts of the world’s tallest atrium, which is 180-meters (590 feet) tall.

The suspended helipad on the top adds to the grandeur of the hotel. The lavish interior skillfully mingles the best of design ethics from both the east and the west. The 8,000 square meters of 22-carat gold leaf and 24,000 square meters of 30 different types of marbles give the hotel an enigmatic touch.

The 28 double-story floors of the hotel accommodate 202 luxury suites with prices ranging from $1,000 to over $28,000 per night (for the Royal Suite). The hotel also features 8 restaurants, including bars and lounges, latest business, conferencing, fitness and recreational facilities. Carved in the midst of white beaches and the blue waters of the Arabian Gulf, the Burj Al Arab is a dream come true.

7. Waterworld

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Location: Songjiang, China
Designer: Atkin’s Architecture Group
Status: Concept

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This spectacular design by Atkin’s Architecture Group deservedly won the first prize award last year in an international design competition. The 400-bed resort hotel features underwater public areas, guest rooms, cafes, and restaurants. The major attraction is the extreme sporting facilities including a luxurious swimming pool, rock climbing and bungee jumping.

What more to say, the pictures are screaming BLISS. (Photo Credit: TheCoolHunter)

6. The Poseidon Undersea Resort

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Location: Fiji, The Poseidon Mystery Island
Designer: Bruce Jones
Status: Under construction, will be completed by September 2008
Estimated project cost: $105 million
Cost per person: $15,000 per week

Our pursuit of unique spaces now goes straight 1,200-square feet under the sea in the lap of Poseidon undersea resort. The world’s first underwater resort will be ready by the end of next year with breathtaking coral reefs where you can literally immerse yourself.

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Surrounded by 5,000-acre lagoon, the Bruce Jones’ Poseidon Mystery Island offers luxurious 550 square feet large suites.

Not only this, the Poseidon Resorts website says, ‘the first 1,000 guests will have their names permanently inscribed on two monuments one on the island, and one on the floor of the lagoon.’ Now, that’s incredible!



Tourists can indulge in submarine piloting, deep reef excursions, scuba diving, sea track on the sea floor, water sports, para-sailing, cave exploration, and much more.

5. The Hydropolis: A self-acclaimed 10-star underwater hotel

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Location: Dubai
Designer: Joachim Hauser, Crescent Hydropolis Resorts
Estimated project cost: $500-million

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The Hydropolis Undersea Resort, especially designed keeping in mind that we’re around 60% water, endeavors to deliver the serene beauty of the ocean in its true colors. The one of its kind resort will encompass a whopping 1.1-million-square-foot of area offering shopping mall, ballroom, island villas, restaurant, high-tech cinema and surprisingly, a missile-defense system for your security 60-feet underwater.

Tourists can enjoy their stay in 220 theme suites within the submarine leisure complex. It is one of the largest contemporary construction projects in the world, covering an area of 260 hectares, about the size of London’s Hyde Park.

The resort is designed with a petal-like retracting roof to organize open-sky events.

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Around 150 firms are involved in the project, which is expected to complete this year if all technical, land, and financial challenges are met, but it’s delayed as per the latest reports. Following the line and determined of the success of the Hydropolis, Crescent-Hydropolis is now planning a chain of underwater hotels around the world.

4. The Lunatic Hotel: Hotel on the Moon

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Designer: Hans-Jurgen Rombaut, Wimberly Allison Tong & Goo (WATG)
Status: Blueprint ready, will take real shape by 2050

Orbiting in space seems more thrilling but Moon brings in a nostalgic aura. Perhaps, the Lunatic Hotel concept will serve it all with spectacular views sprinkled with joys of low gravity and an alien feeling. Designer Hans-Jurgen Rombaut of the Rotterdam Academy of Architecture in the Netherlands is quite optimistic to complete the dream project by 2050.

The ’sensation engine’, as the designer calls it, will allow tourists to indulge in low-gravity games with the help of two 160-meters high slanting towers. The towers will be equipped with teardrop-shaped ‘habitation capsules’ which will serve as spaceship like suits for tourists.

The 50-cms thick hull made of Moon rock and layers holding water will protect inhabitants from the harsh lunar environment including extreme temperatures and lethal cosmic rays and solar particles. If the whole concept comes out successful, we can expect a real lunar village too. (Photo Credit: NASA)


3. Aeroscraft: The flying luxury hotel of tomorrow

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Designer: Igor Pasternak (Worldwide Aeros Corporation), Wimberly Allison Tong & Goo (WATG)

Status: Prototype under development

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The ‘Aeroscraft’ is a gigantic 400-ton blimp designed to carry passengers in its spacious luxury cosmos onboard. The flying hotel with an area equal to two football fields hangs in air with 14 million cubic feet of helium, huge electric and hydrogen fuel cell powered propellers and six turbofan jet engines. The hotel can accommodate 250 passengers driving them at a speed of 174 miles per hour up to 6, 000 miles.

Flying 8,000 feet above in the air, the 165×244x647 feet airship will provide tourists hi-tech amenities including casino, restaurants and staterooms.

Designer Igor Pasternak has also plans to float a cargo-carrying version too once the project takes off. (Photo Credit: WATG)

2. Galactic Suite

Designer: Xavier Claramunt of ADD+ARQUITECTURA
Status: On hold, prototype is ready

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Designer Xavier Claramunt has tried to imbibe things especially to whet a adventurer’s dream with the Galactic Suite which will have around 22 rooms, measuring 7X4 meters, free of straight lines or angles and huge windows. It is termed as the first global project of its kind, next to Robert Bigelow’s space hotel. Different capsules will act as bars, restaurants, reception, and more.

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The prototype is still waiting for investors to shell out their fortunes to make this project a reality.

1. Commercial Space Station Skywalker: The inflatable space hotel

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Designer:
Bigelow Aerospace, Las Vegas
Location: 515-kms above Earth
Status: The human space complex will be accessible by 2015
Estimated project cost: $500 million
Cost per person: $1 million a night

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Certainly, we’ll have to stop this constant to and fro journey and make space our permanent base. And to make this a reality, the assembling of ‘CSS Skywalker’ kicked off with the launch of ‘Genesis I’ from Russia mid last year. Solar cells will power the inhabitable complex made of various sections that will inflate to take their real form in space. The sections or rooms of the CSS

will allow rockets to dock. In future, the modules will be used as basis for space yachts and moon cruisers.

With a volume of 1,500.00 m3 and mass of 100,000 kg, the CSS Skywalker will have a maximum diameter of 30.00 m (98.00 ft).

The concept is a big challenge while it tests inflatable technology and fights to survive in hazardous conditions. Hope it’s made to face the wrath of the meteorites, though the hull of each module is made of three protective layers with an outer 18-inch-thick shield made of alternating woven graphite composite and foam to protect against orbital debris. (Photo Credit: CNet)

Passing reference: The Diamond Ring Hotel
Location: Abu Dhabi

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The Diamond Ring hotel is just a concept right now and all we’ve are these images for you to feed on. If anybody reading this has more info, please share with our readers

Source: Born Rich

Top 5 most luxurious hotels

For most people a holiday is a time to really treat themselves, and this means that there is a huge market for luxury, top quality hotels and resorts around the world. What better way to make a honeymoon or special holiday memorable than staying in a lavish 5 Star hotel, and treating yourself to all the extravagance and opulence that they have to offer.

Here is a list of the 5 most luxurious hotels around the world, so that you can start planning the holiday of your dreams:

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1. The Oberoi Udaivilas, India – this is part of the world famous Oberai chain of hotels established in 1934, and is based in the heart of the beautiful city of Udaipur in India’s Rajasthan province, the home of royalty and the setting from some of the world’s most glamorous movies including James Bond’s “Octopussy”. The Oberoi Udaivilas truly is the height of luxury, with sumptuous rooms that offer unrivalled views over one of the cities premier attractions Lake Pichhola, with a restaurant the offers some of the finest international cuisine in the world. The hotel also provides rooms with private infinity pools and elegant tented dining pavilions, and a top class spa for you to relax and pamper yourself in during your stay. This hotel consistently wins top industry awards every year, and is ideally placed to explore the ancient Arravali Mountains and the cultural splendour of one of India’s most magnificent provinces, Rajasthan.

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2. The Burj Al Arab, Dubai – this is perhaps one of the most iconic hotels in the world, designed in a billowing sail-shaped structure that dominates the skyline in the beautiful city of Dubai. The Burj Al Arab symbolises the hospitality and riches of the Arab nations, and provides one of the most glamorous and opulent hotel experiences in the world. All suites and rooms are of the highest quality, with the latest in sophisticated technology at your disposal such as satellite TV, personal laptop computers, fax machines and printers. You can choose from magnificent views over the Arabic sea or the wonderful city of Dubai itself, and also there are 6 restaurants that all provide fine dining, and pools, Jacuzzis, spa treatments and fitness studios so that you can workout and relax in comfort.

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3. Villa San Michele, Florence, Italy – Florence is one of Italy’s most beautiful cities, and the Villa San Michele is one of its most beautiful and luxurious hotels. This was previously a 15th-century Franciscan monastery, and is only a few minutes from the centre of the city. Villa San Michele is surrounded by its own magnificent gardens and woodland and is well known for being a tranquil and idyllic oasis. This hotel has a formidable reputation for a high level of care and service with professional dedicated staff that run the hotel seamlessly. The rooms manage to combine the beautiful heritage of the building with a modern, luxurious feel, and the views out over the hotel gardens and grounds are breathtaking.

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4. The Steigenberger Frankfurter Hof, Germany – this grand neo-gothic 5 star hotel is situated in the splendid city of Frankfurt, and combines modern convenience with the majesty and elegance of all of its 130 years of history. The interior is the height of luxury from glorious classical ceilings complete with chandeliers to marbled bathrooms and delightfully decadent Haute Cuisine restaurants. The Steigenberger Frankfurter Hof is also situated right in the city centre, just a stroll away from the wonderful Kaiserstrasse shopping parade, and the famous Frankfurt opera house.

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5. Anse Chastanet, Soufriere, St. Lucia – this amazing Caribbean hotel really is the height of exotic luxury and has been designed to incorporate both the natural beauty of St Lucia’s lush tropical landscape and also all the modern conveniences and luxuries. The hotel resort is surrounded by lush tropical gardens and borders one of the island’s most beautiful beaches, complete with soft white sand and bright turquoise waters. Each room in Anse Chastanet is different, but all embrace the island’s ‘joy de vivre’ with bold, bright prints and fabrics and wide spacious suites that have entire walls open to the stunning exotic landscapes outside. Anse Chastanet is also well known for its fabulous collection of both local and international art, which adorns all the rooms and public areas. The hotel’s spa, Kai Belté, is also world class, and situated right on the beach. There is also a casual beachside bar and restaurant for informal dining and a beautiful hillside terrace that serves wonderful breakfasts and afternoon teas.

Probably the Atlantis Hotel from Dubai will join the top as soon as all the problems will get solved.

Source: Journeyetc

Sirius star

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Sirius is the brightest star in the night sky with a visual apparent magnitude of −1.47, almost twice as bright as Canopus, the next brightest star. Pronounced /ˈsɪriəs/,[15] the name Sirius is derived from the Ancient Greek Σείριος.[16] The star has the Bayer designation α Canis Majoris (α CMa, or Alpha Canis Majoris). What the naked eye perceives as a single star is actually a binary star system, consisting of a white main sequence star of spectral type A1V, termed Sirius A, and a faint white dwarf companion of spectral type DA2, termed Sirius B.

Sirius appears bright due to both its intrinsic luminosity and its closeness to the Earth. At a distance of 2.6 parsecs (8.6 light-years), the Sirius system is one of our near neighbors. Sirius A is about twice as massive as the Sun and has an absolute visual magnitude of 1.42. It is 25 times more luminous than the Sun[7] but has a significantly lower luminosity than other bright stars such as Canopus or Rigel. The system is between 200 and 300 million years old.[7] It was originally composed of two bright bluish stars. The more massive of these, Sirius B, consumed its resources and became a red giant before shedding its outer layers and collapsing into its current state as a white dwarf around 120 million years ago.[7]

Sirius is also known colloquially as the "Dog Star", reflecting its prominence in its constellation, Canis Major (English: Big Dog).[17] It is the subject of more myth and folklore than any other star apart from the sun. The heliacal rising of Sirius marked the flooding of the Nile in Ancient Egypt and the 'Dog Days' of summer for the Ancient Greeks, while to the Polynesians it marked winter and was an important star for navigation around the Pacific Ocean.

Observational history

Sirius is recorded in the earliest astronomical records, known in Ancient Egypt as Sopdet (Greek: Sothis). During the era of the Middle Kingdom, Egyptians based their calendar on the heliacal rising of Sirius, namely the day it becomes visible just before sunrise after moving far enough away from the glare of the sun. This occurred just before the annual flooding of the Nile and the summer solstice,[18] after a 70 day absence from the skies.[19] The hieroglyph for Sothis features a star and a triangle. Sothis was identified with the great goddess Isis who formed a part of a trinity with her husband Osiris and their son Horus, while the 70 day period symbolised the passing of Isis and Osiris through the duat (Egyptian underworld).[19]

The Ancient Greeks believed that the appearance of Sirius heralded the hot and dry summer, and feared its effects on making plants wilt, men weaken and women become aroused.[20] Due to its brightness, Sirius would have been noted to twinkle more in the unsettled weather conditions of early summer. To Greek observers, this signified certain emanations which caused its malign influence. People suffering its effects were said to be astroboletos/αστροβολητος or 'star-struck'. It was described as 'burning' or 'flaming' in literature.[21] The season following the star's appearance came to be known as the Dog Days of summer.[22] The inhabitants of the island of Ceos in the Aegean Sea would offer sacrifices to Sirius and Zeus to bring cooling breezes, and would await the reappearance of the star in summer. If it rose clear, it would portend good fortune; if it was misty or faint then it foretold (or emanated) pestilence. Coins retrieved from the island from the third century BC feature dogs or stars with emanating rays, highlighting Sirius' importance.[23] The Romans celebrated the heliacal setting of Sirius around April 25, sacrificing a dog, along with incense, wine, and a sheep, to the goddess Robigo so that the star's emanations would not cause wheat rust on wheat crops that year.[24]

Ptolemy of Alexandria mapped the stars in Book VII and VIII of his Almagest, in which he used Sirius as the location for the globe's central meridian. He curiously depicted it as one of six red-coloured stars (see the Red controversy section below). The other five are, in fact, class M and K stars, such as Arcturus and Betelgeuse.[25]

Bright stars were important to the ancient Polynesians for navigation between the many islands and atolls of the Pacific Ocean. Low on the horizon, they acted as stellar compasses to assist mariners in charting courses to particular destinations. They also served as latitude markers; the declination of Sirius matches the latitude of the island of Fiji at 17°S and thus passes directly over the island each night.[26] Sirius served as the body of a 'Great Bird' constellation called Manu, with Canopus as the southern wingtip and Procyon the northern wingtip, which divided the Polynesian night sky into two hemispheres.[27] Just as the appearance of Sirius in the morning sky marked summer in Greece, so it marked the chilly onset of winter for the Māori, whose name Takurua described both the star and the season. Its culmination at the winter solstice was marked by celebration in Hawaii, where it was known as Ka'ulua 'Queen of Heaven'. Many other Polynesian names have been recorded, including Tau-ua in the Marquesas Islands, Rehua in New Zealand, and Aa and Hoku-Kauopae in Hawaii.[28]

Kinematics

In 1676, Edmond Halley spent a year on the island of Saint Helena in the South Atlantic surveying the southern stars. Some 40 years later in 1718 he discovered the proper motion of the hitherto presumed "fixed" stars after comparing his astrometric measurements with those given in Ptolemy's Almagest. Arcturus and Sirius were two noted to have moved significantly, the latter having progressed 30 arc minutes (about the diameter of the moon) southwards in 1800 years.[29]

In 1868, Sirius became the first star to have its velocity measured. Sir William Huggins examined the spectrum of this star and observed a noticeable red shift. He concluded that Sirius was receding from the Solar System at about 40 km/s.[30][31] Compared to the modern value of −7.6 km/s,[1] this is an overestimate, but it is notable for introducing the study of celestial radial velocities.

Discovery of a companion

In 1844, German astronomer Friedrich Bessel deduced from changes in the proper motion of Sirius that it had an unseen companion.[32] Nearly two decades later, on January 31, 1862, American telescope-maker and astronomer Alvan Graham Clark first observed the faint companion, which is now called Sirius B, or affectionately "the Pup".[33] The visible star is now sometimes known as Sirius A. Since 1894, some apparent orbital irregularities in the Sirius system have been observed, suggesting a third very small companion star, but this has never been definitely confirmed. The best fit to the data indicates a six-year orbit around Sirius A and a mass of only 0.06 solar masses. This star would be five to ten magnitudes fainter than the white dwarf Sirius B, which would account for the difficulty of observing it.[34] More recent observations have failed to confirm the existence of a third member of the Sirius system, but still have not completely ruled out the possibility that one exists too close to Sirius to be seen. An apparent "third star" observed in the 1920s seems to have been a background object.[35]

In 1915, Walter Sydney Adams, using a 60-inch (1.5 meter) reflector at Mount Wilson Observatory, observed the spectrum of Sirius B and determined that it was a faint whitish star.[36] This led astronomers to conclude that it was a white dwarf, the second to be discovered.[37] The diameter of Sirius A was first measured by Robert Hanbury Brown and Richard Q. Twiss in 1959 at Jodrell Bank using their stellar intensity interferometer.[38] In 2005, using the Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers determined that Sirius B has nearly the diameter of the Earth, 12,000 kilometers (7,500 miles), with a mass that is 98% of the Sun.[39][40][41][42]

Red controversy

In 150 AD, the astronomer Ptolemy described Sirius as reddish, along with five other stars, Betelgeuse, Antares, Aldebaran, Arcturus and Pollux, all of which are clearly of orange or red hue.[43] The discrepancy was first noted by amateur astronomer Thomas Barker, squire of Lyndon Hall in Rutland, who prepared a paper and spoke at a meeting of the Royal Society in London in 1760. The existence of other stars changing in brightness gave credence to the idea that some may change in colour too; Sir John Herschel noted this in 1839, possibly influenced by witnessing Eta Carinae two years earlier.[44] Thomas Jefferson Jackson See resurrected discussion on red Sirius with the publication of several papers in 1892, and a final summary in 1926.[45] He cited not only Ptolemy but also the poet Aratus, the orator Cicero, and general Germanicus as colouring the star red, though acknowledging that none of the latter three authors were astronomers, the last two merely translating Aratus' poem Phaenomena.[46] Seneca, too, had described Sirius as being of a deeper red colour than Mars.[47] However, not all ancient observers saw Sirius as red. The 1st century AD poet Marcus Manilius described it as "sea-blue", as did the 4th century Avienus.[48] It is the standard star for the color white in ancient China, and multiple records from the 2nd century BC up to the 7th century AD all describe Sirius as white in hue.[49][50]

In 1985, German astronomers Wolfhard Schlosser and Werner Bergmann published an account of an 8th century Lombardic manuscript, which contains De cursu stellarum ratio by St. Gregory of Tours. The Latin text taught readers how to determine the times of nighttime prayers from positions of the stars, and Sirius is described within as rubeola 'reddish'. The authors proposed this was further evidence Sirius B had been a red giant at the time.[51] However, other scholars replied that it was likely St. Gregory had been referring to Arcturus instead.[52][53]

The possibility that stellar evolution of either Sirius A or Sirius B could be responsible for this discrepancy has been rejected by astronomers on the grounds that the timescale of thousands of years is too short and that there is no sign of the nebulosity in the system that would be expected had such a change taken place.[54] An interaction with a third star, to date undiscovered, has also been proposed as a possibility for a red appearance.[55] Alternative explanations are either that the description as red is a poetic metaphor for ill fortune, or that the dramatic scintillations of the star when it was observed rising left the viewer with the impression that it was red. To the naked eye, it often appears to be flashing with red, white and blue hues when near the horizon.[54]

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Visibility

With an apparent magnitude of −1.47, Sirius is the brightest star in the night sky, almost twice the brightness of the second brightest star, Canopus.[57] However, it is not as bright as the Moon, Venus, or Jupiter. Mercury and Mars are also brighter than Sirius at times.[58][59] Sirius can be seen from almost every inhabited region of the Earth's surface, with only those living north of 73 degrees unable to see it. However, it does not rise very high when viewed from some northern cities, reaching only 13° above the horizon from Saint Petersburg.[60] Sirius, along with Procyon and Betelgeuse, forms one of the three vertices of the Winter Triangle to observers in the Northern Hemisphere.[61] Due to its declination of roughly -17°,[1] Sirius is a circumpolar star from latitudes south of 73° S. From the Southern Hemisphere in early July, Sirius can be seen in both the evening where it sets after the sun, and in the morning where it rises before the sun.[62]

Sirius can even be observed in daylight with the naked eye under the right conditions. Ideally, the sky should be very clear, with the observer at a high altitude, the star passing overhead, and the sun low down on the horizon.[63]

The orbital motion of the Sirius binary system brings the two stars to a minimum angular separation of 3 arcseconds and a maximum of 11 arcseconds. At the closest approach, it is an observational challenge to distinguish the white dwarf from its more luminous companion, requiring a telescope with at least 300 mm (12 in) aperture and excellent seeing conditions. A periastron occurred in 1994[64] and the pair have since been moving apart, making them easier to separate with a telescope.[65]

At a distance of 2.6 parsecs or 8.6 light-years, the Sirius system contains two of the eight nearest stars to the Solar System[66] and is the fifth closest stellar system to ours.[66] This proximity is the main reason for its brightness, as with other near stars such as Alpha Centauri and in stark contrast to distant, highly luminous supergiants such as Canopus, Rigel or Betelgeuse.[67] However, it is still around 25 times more luminous than the Sun.[7] The closest large neighbouring star to Sirius is Procyon, 1.61 parsecs or 5.24 light years away.[68] The Voyager 2 spacecraft, launched in 1977 to study the four Jovian planets in the Solar System, is expected to pass within 4.3 light years of Sirius in approximately 296,000 years.[69]

System

Sirius is a binary star system consisting of two white stars orbiting each other with a separation of about 20 astronomical units[70] (roughly the distance between the Sun and Uranus) and a period of just over 50 years. The brighter component, termed Sirius A, is a main sequence star of spectral type A1V, with an estimated surface temperature of 9,940 K.[9] Its companion, Sirius B, is a star that has already evolved off the main sequence and become a white dwarf. Currently 10,000 times less luminous in the visual spectrum, Sirius B was once the more massive of the two.[71] The age of the system has been estimated at around 230 million years. Early in its lifespan it was thought to have been two bluish white stars orbiting each other in an elliptical orbit every 9.1 years.[71] The system emits a higher than expected level of infrared radiation, as measured by IRAS space-based observatory. This may be an indication of dust in the system, and is considered somewhat unusual for a binary star.[72][68]

Sirius A

Sirius A has a mass of around 2.1 times that of the Sun.[73][68] The radius of this star has been measured by an astronomical interferometer, giving an estimated angular diameter of 5.936±0.016 mas. The projected rotational velocity is a relatively low 16 km/s, which does not produce any significant flattening of its disk.[12] This is at marked variance with the similar-sized Vega, which rotates at a much faster 274 km/s and bulges prominently around its equator.[74]

Stellar models suggest that the star formed during the collapsing of a molecular cloud, and that after 10 million years, its internal energy generation was derived entirely from nuclear reactions. The core became convective and utilized the CNO cycle for energy generation.[12] It is predicted that Sirius A will have completely exhausted the store of hydrogen at its core within a billion (109) years of its formation. At this point it will pass through a red giant stage, then settle down to become a white dwarf.

The spectrum of Sirius A shows deep metallic lines, indicating an enhancement in elements heavier than helium, such as iron.[12][68] When compared to the Sun, the proportion of iron in the atmosphere of Sirius A relative to hydrogen is given by \begin{smallmatrix}[\frac{Fe}{H}]=0.5\end{smallmatrix},[11] which is equivalent to 100.5, meaning it has 316% of the proportion of iron in the Sun's atmosphere. The high surface content of metallic elements is unlikely to be true of the entire star. Instead these may be suspended by a thin convection zone at the surface.[12]

http://www.stowegems.com/images/sirius_star%5B1%5D.gif

Sirius B

With a mass nearly equal to the Sun's, Sirius B is one of the more massive white dwarfs known; it is almost double the 0.5–0.6 solar mass average. Yet that same mass is packed into a volume roughly equal to the Earth. The current surface temperature is 25,200 K.[7] However, since there is no internal source of energy generation, Sirius B will steadily cool as the remaining heat is radiated into space over a period of more than two billion years.[75]

A white dwarf forms only after the star has evolved from the main sequence and then passed through a red giant stage. This occurred when Sirius B was less than half its current age, approximately 120 million years ago. The original star had an estimated 5 solar masses[7] and was a B-type star (roughly B4-5)[76][77] when it still was on the main sequence. While it passed through the red giant stage, Sirius B may have enriched the metallicity of its companion.

This star is primarily composed of a carbon-oxygen mixture that was generated by helium fusion in the progenitor star.[7] This is overlaid by an envelope of lighter elements, with the materials segregated by mass because of the high surface gravity.[78] Hence the outer atmosphere of Sirius B is now almost pure hydrogen—the element with the lowest mass—and no other elements are seen in this star's spectrum.[79]

Sirius supercluster

In 1909, Ejnar Hertzsprung was the first to suggest that Sirius was a member of the Ursa Major Moving Group, based on his observations of the system's movements across the sky. The Ursa Major Group is a set of 220 stars that share a common motion through space and were once formed as members of an open cluster, which has since become gravitationally unbound.[80] However, analyses in 2003 and 2005 found Sirius's membership in the group to be questionable; the Ursa Major Group has an estimated age of 500±100 million years, while Sirius, with metallicity similar to the Sun's, has an age that is only half this, making it too young to belong to the group.[7][81][82] Sirius may instead be a member of the proposed Sirius Supercluster, along with other scattered stars such as Beta Aurigae, Alpha Coronae Borealis, Beta Crateris, Beta Eridani and Beta Serpentis.[83] This is one of three large clusters located within 500 light years of the Sun. The other two are the Hyades and the Pleiades, and each of these clusters consists of hundreds of stars.[84]

Etymology and cultural significance

The most commonly used proper name of this star comes from the Latin Sīrius, from the Ancient Greek Σείριος (Seirios, "glowing" or "scorcher"),[16] although the Greek word itself may have been imported from elsewhere before the Archaic period.[85] The name's earliest recorded use dates from the 7th century BC in Hesiod's poetic work Works and Days.[85] Sirius has over 50 other designations and names attached to it.[57] In Arabic it is known as الشعرى (transliteration: al-ši‘rā or al-shira; English: the leader),[86] from which the alternate name Aschere derives. In Sanskrit, it is known as Mrgavyadha "deer hunter" or Lubdhaka "hunter". As Mrgavyadha, the star represents Rudra (Shiva)[87][88]. In Scandinavia, the star has been known as Lokabrenna ("burning done by Loki", or "Loki's torch"), while the Japanese vernacular name of the star is 青星 (Aoboshi, "blue star"). In the astrology of the Middle Ages, Sirius was a Behenian fixed star,[89] associated with beryl and juniper. Its kabbalistic symbol Image:Agrippa1531 Canismaior.png was listed by Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa.[90]

Many cultures have historically attached special significance to Sirius, particularly in relation to dogs. Indeed, it is often colloquially called the "Dog Star" as the brightest star of Canis Major, the "Great Dog" constellation. It was also classically depicted as Orion's dog. The Ancient Greeks also thought that Sirius' emanations could affect dogs adversely, making them behave abnormally in the heat of summer ("Dog Days"). Their excessive panting was thought to place them at risk of desiccation and disease. In extreme cases, a foaming dog may have rabies, which could infect and kill humans who'd been bitten.[23] The Romans knew these days as dies caniculares and the star as Canicula ("little dog"). In Chinese astronomy the star is known as the star of the 'celestial wolf' (Chinese and Japanese: 天狼; Korean: 천랑; Chinese romanization: Tiānláng; Japanese romanization: Tenrō; Korean romanization: Cheonlang),[91] in the Mansion of Jǐng (井宿). Farther afield, many nations among the indigenous peoples of North America also associated Sirius with canines; the Seri and Tohono O'odham of the southwest note the star as a dog that follows mountain sheep, while the Blackfoot called it 'Dog-face'. The Cherokee paired Sirius with Antares as a dog-star guardian of either end of the "Path of Souls". The Pawnee of Nebraska had several associations; the Wolf (Skidi) tribe knew it as the 'Wolf Star', while other branches knew it as the 'Coyote Star'. Further north, the Alaskan Inuit of the Bering Strait called it 'Moon Dog'.[92]

Several cultures also associated the star with a bow and arrows. The Ancient Chinese visualized a large bow and arrow across the southern sky, formed by the constellations of Puppis and Canis Major. In this, the arrow tip is pointed at the wolf Sirius. A similar association is depicted at the Temple of Hathor in Dendera, where the goddess Satet has drawn her arrow at Hathor (Sirius). Known as Tir, the star was portrayed as the arrow itself in later Persian culture.[93]

Dogon

The Dogon people are an ethnic group in Mali, West Africa, reported to have traditional astronomical knowledge about Sirius that would normally be considered impossible without the use of telescopes. According to Marcel Griaule's books Conversations with Ogotemmêli and The Pale Fox they knew about the fifty-year orbital period of Sirius and its companion prior to western astronomers. They also refer to a third star accompanying Sirius A and B. Robert Temple's 1976 book The Sirius Mystery, credits them with knowledge of the four Galilean moons of Jupiter and the rings of Saturn. This has been the subject of controversy and speculation. According to a 1978 Skeptical Enquirer article it is possibly the result of cultural contamination.[94] More recently, the contaminators have been suggested to be the ethnographers themselves.[95][96] Others see this explanation as being too simplistic.[97] In his book Sirius Matters Noah Brosch proposed that the astronomical cultural transfer to the Dogon took place in 1893, when a French eclipse expedition visited their region.[98]

Modern legacy

Sirius is frequently a subject used in science fiction and related popular culture.[99] It also features on the coat of arms of Macquarie University, and is the name of its alumnae journal.[100] Seven ships of the Royal Navy have been called HMS Sirius since the 18th century, with the first being the flagship of the First Fleet to Australia in 1788.[101] The Royal Australian Navy subsequently named a vessel HMAS Sirius in honor of the flagship.[102] American vessels include the USNS Sirius (T-AFS-8) as well as a monoplane model—the Lockheed Sirius, the first of which was flown by Charles Lindbergh.[103] The name was also adopted by Mitsubishi Motors as the Mitsubishi Sirius engine in 1980.[104] The name of the North American satellite radio company, Satellite CD Radio, Inc., was changed to Sirius Satellite Radio in November, 1999, being named after "the brightest star in the night sky".[105]

Composer Karlheinz Stockhausen has been claimed to have said on several occasions that he came from a planet in the Sirius system[106][107] and made numerous references to the star in his music.

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Source: Wikipedia