Double Stars for Small Telescopes
More than 2,100 Stellar Gems for Backyard Observers
by Sissy Haas
Sky Pulishing, 2006
This is an interesting volume, and one I personally make extensive use of. But before you rush out and buy a copy, let me tell you a bit more about it.
The first section gives a brief overview of double stars, and the terminology of position angle and separation, colour and brightness, resolving double stars, true binaries and optical doubles, and other useful tidbits. This runs ten pages, and is really secondary to the body of the book. The heart of the book is a 158 page catalog of, as the subtitle says, more than 2100 double and multiple stars. These stars are cataloged by constellation, and by RA within each constellation. For each entry, there is information on position (RA and DEC), magnitudes, separation, position angle, and whether it is known to be an optical double or true binary. There are also comments from the author, as well as comments pulled from other sources, providing reference descriptions of the stars.
If you are looking for armchair reading, forget it.
If you are looking for an observing guide to double stars, however, this book is great. Let me tell you how I use it. When observing from my suburban home, the sky is usually too bright for DSO observing, and there are not always planets visible. But double stars tend to be easy suburban targets. I set myself up with Double Stars for Small Telescopes and the Pocket Sky Atlas, choose a constellation that is in prime viewing position, and just start going through the list. I use the RA and DEC to find the target in my atlas, and then set about finding the target. I try to avoid looking at the details in the catalog until I have had a good look, and then I compare my impressions with those in the book. In all, it makes for a productive and pleasant evening of stargazing.
If double stars interest you, and you want a great big annotated list to guide you through, then this book is definitely one for the collection. If armchair astronomy is more your thing, this book is not for you.
This book is available through the Budget Astronomer Bookstore.
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