October 24, 2017

AstroEvent of the Week: 64-65 Geminorum.

The head of the Twins…(Photo by Author).

This week, we invite you to leave the telescope behind and instead hunt down a good binocular double in the constellation Gemini. Beneath the brighter stars of Castor and Pollux and near the star Iota Geminorum lies the wide pair 64-65 Geminorum, an often overlooked yellow-white pair. [Read more...]

Astro-Event: Spot the “Double-Double.”

 

 

Epsilon Lyrae finder chart. (Created by Author in Starry Night).

Epsilon Lyrae finder chart. (Created by Author in Starry Night).

 

 

Looking to expand your star-party repertoire beyond Saturn & Albireo? Let me introduce you to a sure northern hemisphere crowd pleaser, the famous “Double-double” star Epsilon Lyrae in the constellation Lyra. Located about 1 ½ degrees to the northeast of the bright star Vega, this pair is easily resolved in binocs or by the keen eyed observer. The constellation Lyra lies high to the west during the Fall at dusk. But wait, there’s more; each pair is resolvable via moderate sized telescope into a pair of stars, making for a quadruple system. Now for the geometry of what you are seeing; the system is about 162 light years distant. [Read more...]

AstroEvent: A Close Binary Occultation.

Occultation as seen from Albany, New York at about 3 AM Local. (Created in Starry Night).

Occultation as seen from Albany, New York at about 3 AM Local. (Created in Starry Night).

 

 Astronomical occultations are always fun to catch. Unlike other astronomical events that often happen over glacial time scales, occultations happen with abrupt swiftness. And besides just being plain cool, occultations can produce real scientific value, data that you can contribute to from your own backyard… and there’s no bigger occulting body in the night sky than our own Moon. This week, I’d like to bring to your attention a fairly bright and interesting star that is currently undergoing a series of lunar occultations this year; Sigma Scorpii. This star shines at magnitude +2.9 in the heart of the constellation Scorpius and is itself a close binary difficult to separate with a telescope. This star is also known as Al Niyat, or Arabic for the “Shield of the Heart,” possibly referring to its visual proximity to brilliant Antares. Sigma Sco is itself a complex system, with a 9th magnitude companion about 20” distant. [Read more...]