DOUBLE YOUR PLEASURE, DOUBLE YOUR FUN
Double stars are a curious little fellows, lost in a world of glitter often forgotten or over looked. Just think you can discover two or more stars for the price of one. When I started looking for double stars I found it most difficult, difficult until I realized that they have there own distinct look. There is a brightness to them that you do not see with other stars. They seem more pronounced or deeper in color. Maybe they are showing off there joint adventure. They come in blue, yellow, red or white. A blue star can be next to a yellow star. Quite beautiful. At first everything that was close together seem to catch my eye. Maybe, maybe not. Mostly not. But as I started using the charts, finding there friends near by and star hopping, I found it wasn’t so difficult after all.
One of the perks of looking for double stars is that you can view even if the sky is hazy or the moon is out. I was able to go out viewing up until the three quarter moon. I was no longer limited to moonless nights to look for Messier objects. Though you can view them in the city, on less than transparent skies or even with the moon hanging around, they present themselves with more depth and brilliance on a moonless night out in the country side. With Messier objects here and there in the winter months, I was able to continue viewing by looking for the elusive Double stars. Looking for the double stars has taught me about star magnitude and how to navigate the skies. Now when I am looking for a galaxy or open cluster I find myself using a near by double star as a jump off point. They come in quite handy.
Double stars come in two classes. Optical pairs are two stars that appear close together but are different distances from earth and give the appearance of a double star. In the case of binary stars or multiple systems, they are linked by a common center of gravity.
The Astronomical League has a Double Star Club. With a three inch refractor or larger, the Club’s list of 100 Double and Multiple stars, the ability to record your findings and a cloudless night you can become the proud owner of a Double Star Certificate and Pin. All that is required is recording the object, date, time, power, seeing, instrument and a drawing of the double star. My drawings look more like connect the dots pictures. I start with the double stars and then added their neighbors the best I could. Drawing them is similar to star hopping except I record what I see. You can learn more about the Double Star list by going to the clubs web site www.spokaneastronomical.org or www.astroleague.org.
For those of you who have read my articles in the past, I have a new a addition to my world. I have Labrador to help protect me outside at night. Only one problem, my dog is black and when you mix that with dark, I can not see her. I find her making snorting noises in the woods while scouting for the enemy. Is it my dog or is it a wild creature? Her favorite thing to do is to run at me and veer off in the last moment. Now I have to wonder if its her or a deer.
The next time you are out viewing and the moon is being a pest, just check out a few double stars, you won’t be disappointed.BACK TO THE SHORT STORY PAGE