Double vision

by Chuck July 5, 2011

Since we the fireworks in the neighborhood were keeping us up anyway we decided that hauling the ‘scope out wouldn’t be a bad thing, it would give us something to do until after midnight when the booming fades away.

I spend some time with the Sky and Telescope star chart tonight looking for something interesting to see. There is an article in there about double stars, so that’s what I decided to look for.

The seeing tonight was the best that I’ve seen, clear and crisp views of the stars. Unfortunately, my star hopping wasn’t good enough to find 95 Herc, the particular double that I was looking for. I did see M13 as I was sweeping the sky, so that’s something.

The best part of the night was looking at Mizar and Alcor. First with the naked eye, where they are visible (to me, anyway) as a single point of light. Next, the 7x50 binoculars show them clearly as a double star with a third star going along for the ride. Then finally I pointed the 76mm reflector towards them and we could see Mizar’s close companion.

I know that Mizar and the close companion are actually a double-double system, but it was fun to see the way the view changed with different optics, and to see the kids figure out what they were seeing.


Backyard Astronomy

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