View Full Version : Whatever became of the coming and going star?

2003-Apr-08, 06:42 AM
Hello. I was told about this website after posting a question on a Yahoogroup on astronomy. Here is my original post to that group:

Hello everyone. I am Robert Cichon a new member here as a "no email" member of the group. I am primarily looking for some information about one thing only. You may recall more than 20 years ago there was a public stir about a star that had red shift and blue shift. I probably would have forgotten all about it except for a Saturday Night Live skit by Father Guido Sarducci that is permanently etched in my brain. Here are a couple bits from the skit: He said the Vatacan knew about that star and he mentioned its latin name which meant "comin' and goin' star". And he went on about how people born in that solar system got older for 50 years and then reversed and got younger for the next fifty years at which time they "went back". (And Father Sarducci made a hand motion as he said this.) With all the reruns on TV nowadays, you might get lucky and see it yourself someday. Well, I never heard anything more about this star in the newspapers. I'm thinking this report was due to faulty data. I mean how can a star be coming towards the earth and going away from it? So will anybody give me some information about this star, its name perhaps or a website link that explains what happened?

I just want to add that I am not implying that the star exhibited simultaneous red shift and blue shift. And my reason for including the Saturday Night Live skit reference is because that is what has made this a 'nagging question' of mine and that it was in the media enough to make SNL include it in their show.
Thanks to all who reply.

2003-Apr-08, 09:19 AM
I too get most of my understanding of the world from Father Sarducci, but I have to wonder about this case. If it was twenty years ago, and the star was showing red shift for 50 and blue shift for 50, wouldn't that mean there would be such observations from before maybe 1920? If not 1880?

2003-Apr-08, 02:33 PM
I mean how can a star be coming towards the earth and going away from it?

It happens all the time. Consider a binary system (a star orbiting another). As you see it edge-on, one of the stars - orbiting on an ellipse - will be coming towards Earth, displaying a blue shift, while its companion will be getting farther, leaving a red shift. After some time the system averts.

As to people getting younger or older, it looks like a wonderous story, detached from the physical reality.

{edited to fix spelling}

2003-Apr-08, 02:39 PM
It happens all the time. Consider a binary system
I suppose so--just calculate the orbit, and the rest is automatic. No need to even measure the shift itself.

2003-Apr-08, 10:13 PM
Well, I posted here in the hopes that someone would remember the story better than I remember it and tell me the name of the star or a website that has a writeup on it. Even knowing the month and year it happened would help because then I could try looking up the archives of astronomy magazines which surely must have devoted some space to the story. It was the late 70's. Astronomers knew about red shift, blue shift and binary stars pretty well back then, no? There had to have been something very different about this star. Something that had never been seen before. Maybe it's not bad astronomy at all.
Can anyone suggest a different group I could post this to?

2003-Apr-10, 12:30 AM
The star's name is SS 433. A search on Google will tell you more.

2003-Apr-10, 03:58 AM
Most of the links I found at google were broken. This one: SS 433 (http://www.dstrange.freeserve.co.uk/ss433.htm) seems pretty informative. The good father must have been making up the fifty year thing.

Kaptain K
2003-Apr-10, 10:41 AM
...since participants were linked with an e-mail exploder.

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