The planets season has more or less ended, though even Jupiter can still be tamed, with modest expectations, and Saturn can still yield surprises. But, the planets season has more or less ended. So I thought about putting my evenings/nights and the balcony observatory, while it still exists, to good use and look for targets suitable to the setup: binary stars with small angular separation, on the order of arcseconds.
What I also needed: an easy way to get a selection of suitable stars for my balcony and equipment. While pre-selected lists like this one on the Sky&Telescope site are nice, I needed something more substantial. So I incorporated the Washington Double Star Catalog into my photo planner, filtering out elements fainter than 7m. The link usually works… http://ad.usno.navy.mil/wds/ Let’s see a demo: plot some colored binaries for here-and-now.
Some of the stars are of particular interest.
Sirius B, since Sirius is so damn obvious on the sky, is a frequently visited target. It is now at its maximum apparent separation, at around 10-11″, and after I have gathered experience photographing Mimas and Enceladus near the glare of Saturn, this feat turned out to be a piece of cake.
145 CMa is the Albireo of the southern/winter sky. See my Albireo here, recorded with a much much more modest equipment.
40 Eridani, a ternary system containing a common yellowish K star, and a close pair of an M red dwarf and a white dwarf, the first white dwarf discovered, first observed in 1783 by William Herschel. For fans of the Star Trek universe, this is the star system _\\// is coming from.
The telescope is set up, the software works, so here is “my first balcony-survey of double stars”. To be noted that since these stars are just that: pointlike sources heavily disturbed by the urban skies, I applied some pretty aggressive processing, correcting for distorted shape and desaturating stars that came out green.