About a dozen enthusiasts assembled in the Boundary Bank Lane car park last night, enjoying a couple of hours of very clear dark skies. We ran through the constellations as usual, noting how the positions had changed again from the previous meeting, then spent a most rewarding session chasing down a series of double stars.
The temptation with an observing evening is always to go for the better known galaxies and nebulae, so to ring the changes I had drawn up a list of double stars suitable for November viewing through binoculars and small telescopes. This was a novelty for me – and pretty much everyone else in the group – and it was a revelation: double stars present a completely different set of challenges and rewards for small telescope astronomy, balancing magnification against resolution and demanding very careful examination of the images. Each target also had a commentary, courtesy of Sky Safari (which uses several references from Jim Kaler’s works), so there was some technical astronomy discussion too.
- Albireo (Beta Cygni),
- Alpheratz (Alpha Andromedae),
- The Double Double (Epsilon Lyrae),
- Polaris (Alpha Ursae Minoris),
- Mizar & Alcor (Zeta Ursae Majoris & 80 Ursae Majoris),
- Archird (Eta Cassiopeiae) and
- Mintaka (Delta Orionis).
A big “thank you” from me to everyone who attended with such enthusiasm – I really do enjoy putting in the preparation for these sessions, and it is tremendously rewarding when members turn up, join in and so clearly appreciate the effort made.