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Thread: The Astronomy League's Double Star List - How to find them!

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    Default The Astronomy League's Double Star List - How to find them!



    Attached is a pdf document that was derived from my notes when I found all of the 100 objects as a replacement "Rite of Passage" in astronomy, rather then the Messier List.

    Living at that time in a bright red zone area, finding the Messier objects from my back yard was simply not possible. Even with a 14 inch reflector, the best I could hope for was to see the central core of Andromeda, thanks to one very bright security light on the front of a neighbor's garage across the street. Reading about the creation of this list of 100 double stars, they had all been split by several different people with 60 mm refractors. At least one of the objects, at that time, needed relatively dark skies to be visible in that small of a scope.

    I found a lot of small refractors for sale with a search on line, and purchased a 70mm f/10 refractor. My thought was to give myself a little bit of an edge over a 60 mm considering the amount of light pollution I had. The question in my mind was, "Can a small refractor or a small scope of any kind be used for serious astronomical activity. I thought then and still think now that a long focal length refractor or reflector is best for this particular genre, but it is not impossible with an instrument with a short focal ratio. Using a short focal ratio scope will definitely be more difficult and a larger diameter one will most likely be necessary for an object that could be split with a longer ratio in a smaller size. Refractors seem to be better than reflectors for close double stars with greater differences in magnitude. However, a lot depends on the observer.

    Over a period of 15 months, I managed to find and split all 100 with the 70 mm refractor that I had purchased in a clearance for about $30. The one upgrade that proved absolutely essential was to spray paint the inside of the lens hood (dew shield) with flat black paint. The inside had a glossy surface and I would run into reflective glare sometimes that hindered me.

    Some were easy and some were hard. The hard ones broke down into two categories. The first group is simply those with very close separations. The 70 mm diameter of my scope helped a bit over a 60 mm because it can split a double star with a 1.75 arc-second separation while the 60 mm can split one at 2 arc-seconds....assuming that the scope is built properly. The 70 mm can see stars that are a bit dimmer as well. The second group were ones that were positioned in a location that made them hard to find. Some were located where there were no bright stars in their area (I am thinking of one in Lacerta), and others were located where my light pollution was particularly bad.

    I did manage to persevere and eventually found and split all of them! Yes, a small, entry level refractor can be used for a serious project! Though each kind of scope has its limitations, each kind has strong points that allow it to be useful in some type of astronomy. The important factors have more to do with the astronomer and a willingness to keep at it. One added factor is keeping ones attitude focused on "a glass half full" rather than on "a glass half empty." A person can have an enjoyable lifetime with astronomy with a simple scope and a single set of eyepieces. Beyond that lies personal preference, convenience, and possible luxury.

    This document is being provided to help someone who would like to explore the realm of double stars. It's primary intent is for those who would like to accomplish such a project as this for the sense of accomplishment that often goes with finding all the Messier objects, but is not in a position to chase those down due to light pollution. The document has been gone over several times, by different people. However, there are most likely still some errors in it. If you find one, please let me know. At some point, I hope to revise it, making any corrections, and possibly writing an introductory section with a lot of basic tricks and other information to help someone just entering astronomy. If you have any questions, I welcome them. It quite possibly means that I need to work over explanations to make things more clear.

    I would like to hear from people who use this document. I get a thrill when it is used. Hearing from users allows me to be a part of their discovery process and provides feedback about the document.

    Thank you and Best Regards,

    Bill Steen
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    Bill Steen
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    Default Re: The Astronomy League's Double Star List - How to find them!

    Bill! This is amazing documentation! What a gold mine you have provided to us! Fantastic!

    I just checked my logs. Looks like, without even trying, I've logged 26 of these with my AD12. I like the idea of wrangling these guys with a smaller refractor.

    Thanks a bunch for post this! I'm definitely saving a copy of this excellent PDF.
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    Bryan

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    Default Re: The Astronomy League's Double Star List - How to find them!

    Thank you for posting the list Bill, if you have not seen it there is the Double Star Marathon started by Glenn Chaple which he posted in Astronomy Magazine as an alternative to the Messiers though I suspect you probably have quite a few of them on your list already.
    I personally prefer refractors and a good 60, 70 or 80mm refractor can definitely show you a lot of the sky.

    http://www.astronomyforum.net/attach...rving-list.doc
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    Mounts: Manfrotto 028B/ 055PRO, Celestron SLT, Celestron CG-5/ Argo Navis, Stellarvue M2C, Vixen SXP Binoculars: Celestron Eyepieces: A-Z

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    Default Re: The Astronomy League's Double Star List - How to find them!

    Thanks, Bryan and Gabby!

    I actually wrote the original version about six years ago. Even though it took a while, it was a lot of fun to get the certificate from the Astronomy League, along with the little pin they give out. I am a member through my local club, but if someone not in a club wanted to do this, get the Certificate, and the pin, they can join "At Large" for $5.

    I remember something about a double star marathon. I will have to look it up. I am normally not into staying up all night long, but it would be fun to do their list.

    Best Regards,

    Bill
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    Bill Steen
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    Default Re: The Astronomy League's Double Star List - How to find them!

    Excellent information and write-up, Bill. I congratulate you on the accomplishment, especially with such a small aperture in a light polluted environment.

    Thanks for the post.

    Clear, Dark Skies
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    Default Re: The Astronomy League's Double Star List - How to find them!

    Great job, Bill! And I especially like your message for people. There are all sorts of astronomy targets and all kinds of equipment and conditions to work with. It's so easy to ignore all the multitude of wonderful niches that are available.
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    Default Re: The Astronomy League's Double Star List - How to find them!

    Thanks, John and Mark! The whole endeavor was both fun and tough. It was a labor of love. There were times, when I had to laugh at myself: I was on my hands and knees in my muddy back yard, looking through the eyepiece of what someone might consider a kids scope, and saying, "What is a 58 year old man (at that time) doing in a situation like this?"

    I certainly appreciate your kind words.
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    Default Re: The Astronomy League's Double Star List - How to find them!

    Great info. As a beginner, how can I find out what the coordinates mean at the top of your list so I can enter something into my scope to take me there?

    Don

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    Default Re: The Astronomy League's Double Star List - How to find them!

    Hello Mr. Deadeye!

    At the top of a particular object is a row of data. The first number is simply that object's place in the order of 100. The next item is its name or designation. Following that, you will see two digits, followed by the letter "h" which stands for hours. After that is two digits followed by a ' sign. That represents minutes. This is the Right Ascension or RA coordinate for the object. This is the equivalent of longitude on the Earth, except that it is fixed in the sky instead and rotates around the Earth (in the Earth-bound perspective). Following the RA coordinate is Declination. This will be denoted by a positive or negative sign, followed by two digits, then a "d" to designate degrees. (I could not figure out how to easily get the little elevated circle that normally represents degrees.) The two digits following that represents minutes. The positive or negative sign signifies whether the object is North (positive) of the celestial equator or South (negative) of it.

    If your scope has the ability to use RA and Dec directly, then you are good to go. If not, you might look on a star map and see if you can find the spot that the coordinates indicate. For some of the objects, you may have them in your mount's data base and can direct the scope to go to the object by name. If not, then looking at a map, you may be able to find a named star near by that your scope can use, then you simply move the scope manually from that star to the location of the object.

    I just listed the headers of the columns at the top of the first object, simply to save space. Here is a bit of a run-down of what they mean. The next numbers after the coordinates, separated by commas are the magnitudes of the component stars. Sometimes there are two components listed. I do not think there are more than four components listed for any one object.

    After the magnitudes comes the separations for components. If there are two components, then there is only one number indicating the separation between the primary and secondary components. If there are more than two components, there will be a separation number to show the distance in arc-seconds between the primary star and each of the secondary ones normally. In the case of Epsilon Lyrae, the Double Double, it gets more complicated if I remember correctly.

    After separation comes primary angle, or PA. This is the angle in degrees from true North that a secondary component is from the primary. With more than two stars, there will be more primary angles shown. The PA numbers are good to help you make sure you are looking at the right object and not some other double star. With a motorized mount, it is a little more difficult to know which way is North. With a manual mount, as the Earth turns, the objects head westward. North is then 90 degrees away. For a normal Newtonian reflector, the direction North is from west is clockwise. The same for a refractor with no diagonal. For a refractor with a diagonal, the direction is counter-clockwise. Basically, any scope with an even number of mirrors goes clockwise. This includes a refractor with no mirrors. If there is an odd number of mirrors, the direction is counter-clockwise.

    Hope this helps,

    If not, let me know and I will try again, or someone else can chime in.
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    Default Re: The Astronomy League's Double Star List - How to find them!

    I have some more comments to pass along:

    1. If some of the real experts see where I have goofed up in an answer to a question, please correct me. This is too important to let slide.

    2. If someone wants to do this actually as an Astronomy League project and get the pin and certificate, you have to be a member before you start.

    3. Be sure to go to the Astronomy League site and download all the rules related to this project. One of the items is to draw a picture of what you see in terms of dots to represent the magnitude, distance, and angles between the component stars. You then have to mark either North or South and either east or west. If you can figure out which way west is, then it is relatively easy to figure out either North or South.
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    Bill Steen
    Sky Hunters' Haven Observatory, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma
    Meade LX 70 8R & 6M, Infinity 60, 80 & 102, Polaris 112, 127, & 130, DS 2102 OTA, DS 90 OTA, 60 mm f/15, Lightbridge 12, Lightbridge Mini 82, Eclipseview 76 & 114, Sky Shed 3 Bay POD, LPI-G Color

 

 
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