May 25, 2017

Astro-Challenge: Haunting the “Ghost Double.”

The “Ghost of Gamma…” (Created by the Author in Starry Night).

Sometimes, the new and the unexpected lies just inside the field of view of the familiar. This week, we’d like to turn your attention to a hidden double star in the field of a star party favorite.  Halloween means sidewalk astronomy season, as we show off the delights of the universe to high-fructose corn syrup-filled suburbanites. Hey, it’s wonderful that a pagan Cross Quarter tie-in holiday (as in a celebration approximately midway between the equinox and the solstice) gets some play in this day and age. [Read more...]

Astro-Challenge: The Changing (?) Colors of 95 Herculis.

I love double stars. While many a wispy nebulae are elusive and vanish at the first hint of light pollution, double stars tend to stand up well under the less than optimal viewing circumstances that plague most of us. I’ve pulled off many a moonless star party from light-polluted urban areas by adding bright double stars to the menu, a handy item to have in your repertoire when a decent planet is nowhere to be found. [Read more...]

Observing from the ‘Hood’: Good Targets for Bright Skies.

 

 

 

 

Stove Pipe scope ready for action...(Photo by Author).

If you’re like us here at Astroguyz HQ, you find yourself in the ‘burbs under increasingly brightening night skies. But you want to use that shiny new Christmas telescope, right? What follows is a list of objects that you can view tonight from the comfort of your backyard, can of beer and barbeque in hand. This list also serves as a peek at our star party faves, which can frequently occur under less than optimal skies; [Read more...]

Astro-Event of the Week: Can You Spy Sirius B?

(Constructed by the Author in Paint).

(Constructed by the Author in Paint).

The elongated orbit of Sirius B.

   This week’s challenge is a tough one, and may deserve a re-visit or two over the coming decade  to yield success. Everyone knows that Sirius is this brightest star in the sky, but did you know that it has a tiny, elusive white dwarf companion? Tough to locate, this +8.7 magnitude object currently lies at an apparent separation of 9” arc seconds and growing. Usually, that wouldn’t be a tough split, except for the fact that bright Sirius A swamps it out by its -1.42 magnitude brightness! To spot it, you’ll need a telescope of at least 4” aperture, high magnification, and clear, pristine skies. Also, an eyepiece equipped with an occulting bar could prove helpful; the trick is to cover up the bright primary to the northeast while Sirius B lies to the left at a south western position angle. [Read more...]