Category Archives: Double Stars

Epsilon Lyrae – The Double Double Star of Lyra

Epsilon Lyrae is the famous “double-double” star in the constellation Lyra (see below for the location). It lies very close to the star VEGA. The two brightest stars in the binary system can be seen with the naked eye under good conditions and with good eyesight, both stars lie around 162 light years from Earth and they orbit each other. At the time of this posting, Lyra is high in the Western sky after sunset.

Lyra - wide-field image photographed in 2015.

Lyra – wide-field image photographed in 2015.

When viewed at higher magnifications, both stars of the binary can be further split into binaries; that is, the system contains two sets of binary stars orbiting each other. Being able to view the components of each is a common benchmark for the resolving power of telescopes.

Below is an image of the primary double stars using a Celestron 6″ telescope and Canon 6D camera. Total exposure time was only 1.5 minutes.

Note the striking orange star HIP 91820 in the image, this is a spectral type K5 star. From WIKIPEDIA: These stars are of particular interest in the search for extraterrestrial life because they are stable on the main sequence for a very long time (15 to 30 billion years, compared to 10 billion for the Sun). This may create an opportunity for life to evolve on terrestrial planets orbiting such stars. K-type stars also emit less ultraviolet radiation (which can damage DNA and thus hamper the emergence of life) than G-type stars like the Sun.

I learn something new with every image I take….

Epsilon Lyrae photographed in July 2015.

Epsilon Lyrae photographed in July 2015.

Clear skies!

…Tom

Star Shots – Albireo (Beta Cygni)

Thank you for following Star Shots, in this edition, our seventh target is the star Albireo in the constellation Cygnus. As a reminder, all photographs and descriptions are from Northeastern Pennsylvania, so roughly 40 degrees North latitude. We will be using the Wikipedia page of the brightest stars as our guide list to follow.

Albireo - July 24, 2015 image.

Albireo – July 24, 2015 image.

Images were taken using my standard astrophotography setup modified using a Celestron 6″ telescope instead of my 400mm lens. If you have any question on my setup, please ask/comment.

Check out the image below to assist in finding the location of Albireo in the constellation Cygnus.  After sunset, Cygnus and Albireo will be high in the east and heading higher as the time passes.

By IAU and Sky & Telescope magazine (Roger Sinnott & Rick Fienberg) ([1]) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.

Here are some interesting facts about Albireo.

Albireo (or Beta Cygni) is the 5th brightest star in the constellation Cygnus. Albireo appears to the naked eye to be a single star, but even through a modest telescope you will see a beautiful double star. The brighter yellow star is also a close binary system. The two stars are striking in there color contrast. This was the first double star I ever looked at as a young amateur astronomer in the 1970’s.

Burnham states “Albireo is one of the most beautiful double stars in the sky, considered by many observers to be the finest in the heavens for the small telescope. The brighter star is a golden yellow or ‘topaz’, magnitude 3.09, the ‘sapphire’ companion is magnitude 5.11. The separation is 34.3 seconds, an easy object for the low power telescope”. Burnham’s Celestial Handbook, Robert Burnham Jr., Volume 2.

Albireo lies about 410 light-years away from our solar system.

I hope get a chance to look at this natural beauty this summer. Clear skies!

…Tom

 

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