Update your calendar reminders

Hey, do you remember hearing about four years ago that you should be on the lookout for an amazing red nova in the 2021-2023 timeframe?

Five or so years from now, you may be able to witness a new "star" appearing in the night sky, a cosmic gem that should glitter in the northern wing of the constellation Cygnus, the swan, for a good portion of a year.

For the first time, astronomers are confidently predicting that a specific stellar system will explode within a defined period of time, becoming more than 10,000 times brighter than it is now. The explosion will be visible from Earth with the naked eye, and it could be about as bright as Polaris, the north star.

The eruption will signal the moment two stars locked in a cosmic dance have merged, exploding into a red nova that will briefly give Cygnus an extra stellar spangle.

Its debut should happen within a short enough interval that parents teaching their kids about the stellar tapestry overhead can reliably point to the spot where a new pinprick of light will appear.

“We get a predicted explosion date of 2022, give or take a year,” says Calvin College astronomer Larry Molnar, who presented the prediction Friday during a meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Grapevine, Texas.
Well, much like Dr. Seuss and Abigail Shrier, the red nova got cancelled.
Five years ago, Calvin College astronomy professor Larry Molnar and his team began analyzing a pair of tightly bound stars — known as KIC 9832227 — located just 1,800 light-years away in the constellation Cygnus the Swan. The researchers then bolstered their own observations with archival data from 1999, as well as data collected between 2007 and 2013.

Finally, in 2017, Molnar’s team came to an exciting conclusion: The stars are already tangled up in a complicated dance that will inevitably end with their merger and ensuing explosion in 2022. This first-of-its-kind prediction of a “red nova” event visible to the naked eye quickly made headlines around the world, captivating astronomy enthusiasts and astronomers alike.

But in a new study published today in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, another team of researchers led by Quentin Socia, a graduate student at San Diego State University, scrutinized Molnar’s original prediction, ultimately concluding that the prophesied explosion will not happen as planned.
Of course, with everything else "science" has been up to these days, this probably just guarantees it'll actually happen 30 seconds into 2022 just to spite them all.