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Astronomical League Double Star Observations

 

Introduction


Shortly after building my first telescope I became interested in Visual observation.  Soon I was working on two of the Astronomical League's [ALs] observing lists at the same time.  

Like most observing newbie's, started observing Messier and Deep Sky Objects [DSOs].  I slowly got better finding faint objects by star hopping.  I purchased a good set of star charts, the skyAtlas.  I also used a Palm Pilot program call Planetarium.  [I know you are asking, "What is a Palm Pilot?"  It was the first Ipad.]  

When I started I used only a Telrad finder, but soon added a 9x50 RACI finder.  The method I use is to find a bright naked eye star near to the faint object I want to observe on the star chart first.  Then I find that bright star in the sky with the Telrad.  I hop from there to the DSO using the 9x50 RACI finder scope.  I stop as needed referring back to the star chart as I go.  I don't rush.  I make sure I know were I am in the sky and on the chart.  If I get lost I go back to the previous stopping point and determine where I went wrong.  This method works very well for me.

The problem I had with DSOs observing was the Moon.  I could not observe DSOs any time I wanted to.  Many nights the Moon's light washed out the DSO's I was searching for.  So I turned to the next best thing, Double Stars on the Moonlit nights.  

Eventually I worked through both ALs Double Star and Messier Lists, star hopping to more than 200 objects over the next few years.  

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Detailed List

Using the RA and Dec listed by AL, I found each Double Star on my skyAtlas charts.  A made my own more detailed list to help me stay organized once outside and away from the computer.  

My Logs

As I found each double star, I logged the discovery and made a crude sketch with pencil and paper.  During each observation I noted each star's color, which was bright, which was not, their separation, other stars in the same field of view and the direction they drifted.  [Stars drift to the West.  If you know which direction West is, you can determine North.  Once you know North, you can estimate the Position Angle the faint star makes with North.]  My dew soaked field notes were later transferred onto an Excel spreadsheet.  Pencil sketches were re-drafted using Paint.net to create small jpg images of each double star system.  These were eventually inserted into the same Excel spreadsheet log.

Have fun observing them yourself.