Adapting Betelgeuse’s Dimming Event to A High School Level Astronomy Exercise
This article outlines the process of designing a problem for Astronomy Olympiad at high-school level, based on a recent curious astrophysical event. Betelgeuse, one of the brightest star in the night sky and a supernova candidate, started dimming in October 2019 and reached a record minimum magnitude in February 2020. This extraordinary event piqued curiosity in professional astronomers, amateur astronomers as well as mass media. The problem presented here, tries to build a quantitative model of the event for the students, based on just high school physics. This problem included three models viz., a stellar pulsation model, an exoplanet transit model and a mass loss event model. The students were asked to calculate few physical quantities or parameters to deduce the most suitable model. The entire process of problem design including constraints involved, alternative approaches explored and discarded and the final draft is laid out. It is hoped that this discussion will serve as a guiding light to fellow problem designers and question setters.