By Francine Jackson
We normally spend a lot of time enjoying the seasonal constellations, the ones that our ancestors depended on as indicators of changes here on Earth, but we often forget that there is a set of star patterns that are always there, waiting for us when we turn around to the north. These are the circumpolar constellations, the ones that, although their positions do change with time, they seem to travel in a circle centered at the sky’s north pole, and are always visible from our northern latitudes.
: By Glenn ChapleIt’s time to come out of hibernation! After two months of intense cold weather here in the Northeast, mild temperatures are returning. Celebrate spring with a visit to one of the season’s loveliest constellations, Corona Borealis. The Northern Crown is home to a splendid collection of double stars. Here are ten of the most noteworthy.
: By Nan D'AntuonoThe Great Bear Ursa Major is high in the north these Spring evenings. Along his southwestern border, shared with the constellations Lynx, Leo Minor, and Leo lie the three distinctive pairs of third magnitude stars known from ancient times by many names, one of the best known of which is the charming name "The Three Leaps of the Gazelle." Three of the six leap stars are wonderful doubles, and there are many more awaiting discovery in Ursa Major.
: By Nan D'AntuonoThe same hazy summer skies that provide excellent views of the planets also bring many double stars within reach of the small-scope user, some of which are close pairs. Here are just a few of these stars, waiting to be observed before the Square of Pegasus rises to announce that fall is but three months away.
: By Glenn ChapleIn this modern era of the huge galaxy-gulping Dobsonian reflector, double stars have become the neglected children of the cosmos. That’s too bad, because few heavenly objects have the visual appeal of double stars.
: By Glenn ChapleTo most deep sky enthusiasts, spring means “galaxies.” Hundreds of these island universes – many in the Coma-Virgo cluster – are within the reach of backyard scopes. Often forgotten are the beautiful double stars that also inhabit the spring skies. Here are ten of the best:
: By Glenn ChapleOur summer double star adventure takes us to the southern skies and the constellation Scorpius. The region north and west of, and including, Antares contains a remarkable array of showpiece double and multiple stars.
: By Craig CortisThose of you who enjoyed my first installment on this subject will find this second part to be even better. Three constellations are covered on the accompanying list of recommended objects and two—Virgo and Coma Berenices-feature the grandest, richest assortment of galaxies bright enough to be seen in small-to-medium aperture instruments.
: By Glenn ChapleI’m a big fan of “off-the-beaten-path” sky objects. One of my favorites is the little-known double star Struve 817 - the 817th double star catalogued by the German-born Russian astronomer F. G. W. Struve during a survey conducted between 1824 and 1827.
: By Glenn ChapleThe song “Love and Marriage,” contains a line that goes, “you can’t have one without the other.” The words aptly describe the open clusters M6 and M7 in Scorpius. This cosmic “horse and carriage” lies in the southern sky above the Scorpion’s stinger.
: By Glenn ChapleForgive me for the apparent ego trip, but this month I’m going to introduce you to an amazing little asterism called “Chaple’s Arc.” I stumbled upon the Arc in the mid-1970s while looking for the double star h1470.
: By Craig CortisUnusual celestial objects having bizarre or extreme astrophysical properties often make highly desirable observing targets for amateur astronomers wishing to find things outside the scope of the usual, customary star party “menu”. So how do you find something that even the Hubble Space Telescope can’t image in visible light? The answer is surprisingly simple and is my topic for this month.
: By Craig CortisYou are unnecessarily shortchanging yourself if you’ve come to believe that astronomy can only be enjoyed by viewing everything in the very limited confines of telescopes or binoculars.
: By Dave HuestisThis month Dave Huestis examines the 5th largest constellation in the sky - Hercules. While there are many mythological stories about this giant, one of the most beautiful objects in the heavens resides within its borders. It's full of stars!
: By Glenn ChapleOne reason for IC 4665’s relative anonymity is its large size, allowing it to elude the narrow fields of large-aperture telescopes. Charles Messier and William Herschel missed it, and it wasn’t included in the New General Catalogue. This often-overlooked cluster is definitely a must-see object for binoculars and rich-field telescopes.
: By Glenn ChapleMost backyard astronomers are so entranced by the Great Hercules Cluster M13 that they fail to notice a small, faint oval patch of light a half degree to the northeast. This is the 11th magnitude galaxy NGC 6207.
: By Glenn ChapleA larger telescope and magnifying power of 200X will readily split Izar and reveal a striking color contrast between the golden yellow primary and its bluish companion. The Russian astronomer Wilhelm Struve, who conducted a double star survey in the late 1820s and early 1830s, nick-named it “Pulcherrima” (The Most Beautiful).
: By Glenn ChapleThis month, we travel southward to the constellation Scorpius and the showpiece double star beta (β) Scorpii, also known as Graffias. Beta Scorpii is an eye-pleasing pair of magnitude 2.6 and 4.5 stars separated by 13.6 arc-seconds. The magnitudes and separation are quite similar to those of the better-know Mizar; indeed, Graffias rivals Mizar in visual splendor.
: By Francine JacksonWe normally spend a lot of time enjoying the seasonal constellations, the ones that our ancestors depended on as indicators of changes here on Earth, but we often forget that there is a set of star patterns that are always there, waiting for us when we turn around to the north. These are the circumpolar constellations, the ones that, although their positions do change with time, they seem to travel in a circle centered at the sky’s north pole, and are always visible from our northern latitudes.
: By Glenn ChapleQuick question. How many times (to the nearest thousand) have you viewed the great globular cluster M13 with your telescope? Next question. How many times (nearest thousandth) have you visited Hercules’ other great globular cluster M92? I doubt it would be an exaggeration to say that I’ve seen M92 once for every hundred times I’ve viewed M13.
: By Glenn ChapleIn July, we looked at M92, a fine globular cluster in Hercules that’s overlooked in favor of the easier-to-find M13. The same misfortune has befallen another globular cluster - M56 in Lyra. M56 is often bypassed by backyard astronomers who favor the planetary nebula M57, conveniently positioned midway between the stars beta (β) and gamma (γ) Lyrae.
: By Glenn ChapleCompiling a list of the finest double stars for backyard telescopes is always a work in progress. The list is forever in flux, because many showpiece double stars are binary systems that periodically close to the point where they can’t be resolved by small-aperture telescopes. Such is the case with Porrima (gamma [γ] Virginis).
: By Glenn ChapleWhat’s the most spectacular globular cluster in the northern sky? Most backyard astronomers would pick the Great Cluster M13 in Hercules. If you wish to view the finest globular cluster visible from the entire New England sky, however, you’ll have to travel south of the celestial equator to the constellation Sagittarius and its showpiece globular cluster M22.
: By Glenn ChapleIf you slowly scan the southern part of Vulpecula with binoculars or rich-field telescope, you’ll come across a remarkable asterism comprised of 10 stars arranged in the distinct form of a coathanger. Six line up to form the bar, while four others create the hook. It’s quite an eye-opening sight!
: By Glenn ChapleOne of the best examples of a star-hop is the one that takes us from Mizar (the middle star in the Handle of the Big Dipper) to the face-on spiral galaxy M101. It’s a fortuitous situation because, were it isolated, M101 might be one of the more difficult Messier objects to locate.
Eyes on the Sky makes it easier for anyone to find objects in the night sky and/or learn how to use astronomy equipment, and educates about smarter lighting practices. Take a look at the weekly videos to learn what YOU can find in the night sky, this week - naked eye, binocular and telescopic objects are always discussed, so anyone can look up and see planets, stars and other deep sky objects.
One of the best examples of a star-hop is the one that takes us from Mizar (the middle star in the Handle of the Big Dipper) to the face-on spiral galaxy M101. It’s a fortuitous situation because, were it isolated, M101 might be one of the more difficult Messier objects to locate.
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