Thursday, November 12, 2009

More Aries Doubles and other thoughts

This time I had a plan. Yet another clear night in November in Mississauga, only this one was much more stable than previous. Decided to stick around in the Constellation Aries as it was getting nice and high. Also we did this online somewhat. It was colder though, below zero C.

This time I emphasized quality time behind the eyepiece, not the number of objects on a night. It was time to take it a tad slower, and a tad more challenging (it ended up being much more challenging). The Old Refractor and the Pronto were used tonight. The Pronto acting as the backup finderscope. That might look like a diminished role for this great little scope, but the finder on the Refractor is just awful and not very useful. But I needed the four inch aperture do this, and with it collimated properly, time to see what it can really do. Armed with the Cambridge Double Star Atlas and the reference, Double Stars for Small Telescopes, it was time for the hunt.

Did I mention it was cold? Took a while for the Refractor to cool down!

Struve 174 (1 Arietis): Nice start to the evening. A contrasting coloured pair as stated in the DSST. Saw the yellowish tint of the brighter and the blue of the companion. It was getting steadier as the Refractor cooled down. Rock solid at times. RA 1h 50.1" and DEC 22 17", it was fairly easy to find and there are bright guide stars to go on. The Pronto saw this in the low power making it even easier. Takes about 100X to really see them well split. 2.9" arc separation so you will enjoy these.

Struve 194: Not seen. It appears that darker skies are required for this much like the companions of 41 Arietis and with a 1.2" separation, that was going to be difficult.

Struve 208 (10 Arietis): With the failed attempt at splitting Struve 194, Struve 208 was going to be a challenge and I approached this with some cynicism thinking I would not get this one done. At 1.2" separation, I wasn't very positive. Was I wrong! First let me say this is another "Grand Prize" double star. But not because it's bright or very pretty like some would have it. No, it's because it looks like a mini version of Epsilon Bootis, a classic close split with a large magnitude differential. This one is 5.8 and 7.9 respectively. What a wonderful double star this is. Pale yellow primary and the companion just passed through the first concentric ring and was "kissing" the primary. I decided that I needed more power (the scope was at 222X). I moved the 2X barlow ahead of the diagonal making it 333X and yes, the image held together. It had become a very steady night. At this power the companion was seen as an individual star. Awesome site! Contrasting grey-blue colour. RA 2h 03.7" DEC 25 56', you can't miss it. Located in a trio of stars just a tad north of the star Hamal.

Struve 333 (Epsilon Arietis): Wow after Struve 208, I was over the Moon, although there was no moon. Funny thing happened on the way to Struve 333. I had a terrible time finding it. The Refractor was nearly overhead and I thought I had found the small group of stars in the Pronto. But for a while there, I was having a devil of a time trying to centre this star. After much fidgiting with the scope, I found it. Another awesome pair. At just over 100X, this is another kissing double. There is little magnitude difference here at 5.2 and 5.6 so they look almost identical. They also showed no colour contrast. Almost perfect twins (the DSST says there is a colour difference). At over 200X, a clean split. 1.4" separation so they are very close. But really, really nice!

Did I say it was cold? By then I was frozen.

Pronto at low power:

Lambda Arietis at 8X (yes 8X! You read that right!): Shows as a distinct double star at incredibly low power making this one awesome binocular double! Low power sweep of Aries was very nice.

The Trio of 14,11 and 10 Arietis: Another wonderful wide field view of this region. Each individual star shows a companion of sorts. 14 Arietis is listed as a triple star with a separation of 34" and 278". But I don't remember seeing a third. I will have to return there.


Collimation of the old Refractor has given it a new life. It was almost banished to retirement after the Pronto arrived and it was inactive for over a year as other priorities took hold in life. But the main thing is that I always found that the old Refractor was hit and miss. I didn't realize then why, but it was almost always "just okay" but never great. When I found an easy way to collimate it, it turned into a different scope. It can handle very high power when seeing permits. It's a great Struve hunter and wonderful planetary scope. Thoughts of retirement or banishment have been replaced by thoughts of "life extension" and not just some token refit, but a big overhaul to give it many years of usage well past it's shelf life. Remember, it's 20 years old now and it just looks fine!


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