The Real Stars of Harry Potter
Illustration by J.White
by C. Renée James
Sirius. Regulus. Bellatrix. Arcturus. Say these words to an astronomer, and you will likely trigger the memory of a bright star list, quite possibly with spectral types and apparent magnitudes thrown in for good measure. Say these words to a Harry Potter fan, on the other hand, and you will evoke a range of emotions, from sympathy for the affable but risk-taking Sirius to downright hatred for Bellatrix, from whom evil seemed to ooze from every You-Know-Who-loving pore.
What's that? You're not up on your Harry Potter? You might consider leafing through the four-thousand-page series sometime soon, especially if you want to draw serious crowds at your next star party or planetarium show. J. K. Rowling might not have known it, but she provided a vast new avenue for astronomy outreach by doing some good research into mythology and by naming plenty of characters after things you can find in the night sky.
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