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One of the reasons I wanted to buy a telescope was to observe the colourful double stars. Just read in July edition of Astronomy Now magazine that Albireo ,s wonderful colours will be washed out to some degree in a light polluted area.

it would seem pointless to buy a telescope for a light polluted back garden., If this is the case.

Chris P

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I would expect to see the colours of Albireo in my own light polluted garden, as both components are bright enough to show up, and the eye can make out the difference in colour quite easily. 

I've not read that page in AN yet. What scope do you have? 

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What you see posted in magazines, is not what you see through a scope

Even looking at the Orion Nebula, through a bigger scope, the Orion Nebula, will still appear mono, due to human eye not been able to pick up detail

Was a bit of a forum on this, last week, and a good explanation limitation human eye to colour was posted



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No, not pointless. I see colour in lots of doubles. Albireo is especially beautiful.





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Quite a few double-stars require higher powers to split them, and to see the differing colors.  A short-focus achromat(refractor) and a short-focus Newtonian/"Dobsonian" are going to be problematic in that regard.

Still, refractors and Maksutovs are best for double-star observations.

In so far as light-pollution, there are several ways to lessen its effects whilst observing, and with some requiring a bit of DIY, arts-and-crafts type work.

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Hello Dusty!

I live in a part of Greece near Athens, which means I have severely light polluted skies. I would classify it as a Bortle 6-7 ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bortle_scale ).

I own a 130mm reflector and with it I managed to separate the colours of Albireo. The thing is that since they are stars they are easier to see and discern their colours because they produce their light and are pinpoint sources. From my experience, I have found out I can discern colour of up to mag 5 stars. If you want, I can go on a binary star search and report my results as to how far down I can push the apparent magnitude and still notice the difference in colour. 

I will however re-iterate the aforementioned point, viewing throught the eyepiece of  your telescope will be a lot different than the astrophotographs you may have seen. A good post that was recently suggested to me was this ( https://stargazerslounge.com/topic/196278-what-can-i-expect-to-see/ ). Do not lose your enthusiasm, though. The universe is a sight to behold and there are many things to see in it! Sure, light pollution is very annoying, but when you finally get that glimpse of the item you were hunting down, it is even more exciting. I remember my excitement when I managed to get a glimpse of the Sombrero galaxy. Plus when you finally get to a dark site you will be able to discern many more things from that hunting experience. 

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Hi Dusty,

I come from a big city in India (called Pune) and there is a lot of light pollution where I used to live. I used to own a 5" f/7.2 reflector back then and I could quite easily resolve Albiero. In fact I remember being really excited on looking at the red and blue of the stars! I could resolve them with a 20mm eyepiece and they looked fantastic with a 10mm eyepiece. I recently moved to New Haven, CT, in the US, and this is much less light polluted than my old city. I enjoy much better views from here, and can easily split Albiero! So, unless you are severely light polluted and cannot see any stars when you look up, you should definitely be able to resolve and enjoy Albiero and many other double stars. 

I would also like to mention that if you are contemplating buying a telescope for observation purposes, then you should definitely consider buying a dobsonian. These are the best bang for the buck for visual astronomy as almost all of your money goes into the optics of the scope. An 8" dob from any of the big companies will guarantee not only that you will be able to split Albiero, but also be able to observe most of the Messiers! So do consider purchasing a dob!

As always though, there is nothing that can beat a dark sky. You will always get your best views from a really dark new moon night from far outside the city. 

Hope this helps!


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Based in the suburbs of Birmingham (Bortle 8 ) I have no problems with seeing the different colours of the Albireo pair.  

LP does limit viewing the faint and the fuzzy but stars and planets in the darkest parts of the sky are fine.  

On 04/07/2019 at 23:42, devdusty said:

it would seem pointless to buy a telescope for a light polluted back garden.

Never, it's fascinating whatever you can see!

Clear skies.


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Oh no you’ll be fine. Albireo is high until mid autumn right now - the closer to the zenith it is the less it’s affected by LP anyway. Double stars are affected much less by light pollution than galaxies for example. Most of us are plagued by significant light pollution these days. 

Clusters aren’t that badly affected and some planetary nebula are fine too. Planets and moon of course. Still lots to see!

Gamma delphini is another cracker - two little yellow dots on a sea of blue stars.

Edited by Mr niall
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