Betelgeuse is almost 50% brighter than normal. What's going on?
If you prefer, you can find out about it in this video (timestamped) from Dr Becky:
In my younger days, a popular science author was George Gamow (Biography&Discoveries | Britannica), well known for his “Mr Tompkins” series of books, structured as a series of dreams in which Mr Tompkins enters alternative worlds where the physical constants have radically different values from those they have in the real world. These aim to use these alterations to explain modern scientific theories, though today some aspects appear somewhat dated.
One book of his that I re-read the excellent “A Star Called the Sun” (1964). Its scope is far wider than the title suggests, and even contains the statement “One cubic centimetre of this condensed plasma or nuclear fluid would weight one hundred million tons, but there is no evidence that nuclear fluid exists anywhere in the universe today.” This became dated very quickly, with the first discovery of a pulsar in 1967.
But this is my favourite bit in the whole book:
«The author cannot help relating here an amusing story — changing, for the purpose, to the first person. Soon after the end of World War II I took my family to a ranch near Lake Louise in the Canadian Rockies. We planned a long pack trip, and the question arose which of the ranch horses was strong enough to carry me through a long mountain trip (6 feet 3 inches and 220 pounds — my height and weight, not the horse’s). The only animal qualified for the task was a tall red stallion, called by the cowboys “Big Red” for lack of a better name. I decided to rename him Betelgeuse, which is a typical Red Giant star in the constellation of Orion. The star was given its name millennia ago by Arab astronomers and “Betelgeuse” in Arabic means “Shoulder of a giant” - a most appropriate name for my horse. The pack trip turned out to be very successful, and my Betelgeuse carried me faithfully each day from dawn to dusk. A number of years later we revisited that ranch. All the cowboys were new, but Betelgeuse was still there. “What is the name of that horse?” I asked. “Battle Goose, sir,” answered the stable boy. “But why Battle Goose?” “Don’t know, sir, but he always was called that.”»