researching multi[ple star systems

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    Ian Kahler

    Hi everyone,

    I wasn’t really sure  where  to post this  topic, so I figured  I would start here.

    I just joined the BAA recently and  I am enjoying myself  looking around  at all the  different member  pages  and  sections.

    I was wondering…. how  many of  you really enjoy researching / studying double  and  multiple  star systems…. such as  double  stars and  open clusters?  I have a  5 inch refractor but I have  not used  it for a few  years  now  because  I basically suck at finding anything with it. So now; having given up taking my scope outside,  I find  myself   at my computer studying the HUGE lists  of  data related  to this  phenomenon. I even like  to draw my own scale  maps  of  some  of  the more  complex and  amazing open clusters. I use a  combo of  programs such as  Stellarium, Cartes de Ceil, and  megastar V5 on my computer, I have the  3  volume millennium star atlas, as  well as good  ole Burnhams handbook [started out with that one years  ago]. Also have Star Clusters from Willman-Bell inc and the  Arp Atlas of  Peculiar Galaxies. I plan on buying the  new Uranometria 2000 all sky version with the  field guide soon.

    Clear Skies

    Ian Kahler

    owen brazell

    Although the BAA DSS does have a double star part the primary organisation for double stars in the UK is the Webb Society. They also publish a double star atlas with charts for many open clusters. There are also a decent number of books on this including Bob Argyles book on double stars and also James Mulaneys book, both published by Springer.


    Ian Kahler

    Thank you Owen, I have  looked at the  Webb Society website…. I might very well go back and  take a  closer look.

    Jeremy Shears

    Hello Ian and welcome to the BAA!

    There are quite a few members who enjoy observing double stars. The Deep Sky Section’s John McCue is the DSS Double Star Adviser. He has written a tutorial on the measurement of double stars  on the website. John has written another article on double stars here.

    Nick White has written and article on the technique with which he observes double stars in the 2017 April edition of the Journal which you can read here (to read the whole article you need to be logged into the BAA website).

    There are also some members who use lunar occultations to detect very close double stars (there are two dips in brightness as each component is occulted). An example by Alex Pratt is shown on his Members Page.

    These are only a few examples of double star activity within the BAA. You mention there is quite a bit on our website, so do enjoy looking around. You might be interested in this article by Callum Potter about colourful double stars of the summer (which I hope will soon be here!).

    All the best,


    Hugh Allen

    Hi Ian,

    I think double stars are a wonderful way to access observational astronomy and great fun as you say to think about and research. I’m sure you could master your 5″ refractor by focusing on the bright double stars (there are many) and then you’d be hooked. When conditions are less than ideal there are always beautiful double stars to fall back on and they can make great targets for little projects that help keep you engaged in this wonderful hobby. For example, a few years ago I decided to explore and image some of the double stars in Aries, my birth constellation. This was the result and it was great fun! Good luck 🙂


    Callum Potter

    Hello Ian, and welcome to the BAA

    We have a number of active double star observers in the Deep Sky Section, as Jeremy mentioned John McCue is the sections’s double star advisor.

    If you send me a direct message I will add you to the deep sky section members list. There should be a section newsletter coming out soon which has some double star reports and a short article.

    The section also has a meeting on April 22 in Bedford, if this is at all convenient for you to attend, you would be most welcome.

    Best regards


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