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This animation shows middle and high school Earth students how scientists study stars in a binary system. The introduction explains that, while it may not be possible to see both stars, their combined luminosity decreases as they eclipse each other. The animation, which shows a bright star with a smaller, dimmer companion star, demonstrates how such variables as the stars' brightness, size, and alignment alter the luminosity pattern. Students see the system from three perspectives simultaneously: a side view with a complete eclipse, an oblique view with a partial eclipse, and an overhead view with no eclipse. Each view also includes a graph that plots the pattern of luminosity over time. Movie controls allow students to repeat, pause, or step through the animation, which can give students more time to analyze the images. Copyright 2005 Eisenhower National Clearinghouse
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