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Epsilon Lyrae Treat!

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Last night was one of those rare nights of exceptional seeing conditions, stars were undistorted and, beautiful pinpoints with unwavering airy discs. Starting off with the moon, i was amazed at how sharp the views were, there was absolutely no wavering, no distortion, as though the atmosphere had stripped away for one night. A good part of my night was spend exploring the lunar surface and, identifying features with my handy lunar map. Sometime around 2am as the moon started to drop below neighbouring rooftops, i turned my attention to continuing my hunt for doubles. over the next half hour i had a great time skipping from double to double using SkySafari, i was never one to search out doubles, they were just there and i always thought it would be boring to specifically search them out, how exciting could a double be?. This was my opinion, as dense as it may be, only recently after purchasing my first refractor had i developed a liking to searching them out, stars just look different in a good refractor.

At around 2:30 i noticed the constellation Lyra was making its way over my rooftop so i relocated my scope so it would clear the house. My first target was M57 of course, (remember, i had never really cared about doubles) The ring looked exactly like i  had seen it so many times, a fuzzy ring, a pleasant old friend to visit for the thousandth time throughout my amateur years. Just then i decided to lift my phone to Lyra and activate skysafari which i had set to point out doubles, whats this? a double double? i thought my eyes were playing tricks on me.  Maybe i was reading it wrong, the words "double double" for one target i hadn't seen before, many labeled as a "double" yes, no shortage of those around but, this was interesting. Pointing my Eon at this target with my 14mm pentax, i saw what looked like two stars, i tried to make sense of double double. How did i miss this most beautiful of targets? swapping my Pentax for my 9mm Morpheus, i began to see the light. Two barely distinguishable doubles, i say barely because i could tell they were both doubles but, not enough to really make out a clear gap. 

Recently i purchased a 2.5x TeleVue Powermate, a fine tool which is invisible in the optical train, i recommend it to anyone looking for a barlow, in went the powermate with my morpheus. Looking into the eyepiece, making a fine adjustment of the focuser and, WOW, i gasped, i held my hand to my face, i felt stunned, those four stars were so clearly defined as absolute perfect orbs, beautiful black gaps between them with no shimmering, orange in colour. It was a sight to see, how in my years under the stars have i missed this stellar wonder, i feel like i am not worthy of this forum, many of you may be shocked, in a lifetime under the stars i missed this?. There was no pulling my eye from the eyepiece, i have looked at M57 and moved on, a thousand times before, the injustice i have done Lyra. shortly after i was finished kicking myself, i decided i had time for one more, a short skip away was Albireo, which i have seen many times but, no less beautiful. Shortly after, i had a peek at Jupiter and Saturn which required me to relocate my scope to the front yard, by then, i was tired, Jupiter and Saturn looked great for being low on the horizon, refractors are awesome for contrast, Jupiter and Saturn showed banding but, nothing as detailed as i have seen two summers ago. My night was over, the highlight by far was Epsilon Lyrae, what a beautiful and, unexpected treat.

Feel free to recommend any doubles which you think will be a challenge considering my scope, a 115mm frac, i'd love to hear about them.

Edited by Sunshine
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Great report, Sunshine,and I could feel your delight at your new discovery!:thumbsup::hello2:

The double double truly is a wonderful sight. I revisited Mizar in Ursa Major last night and never fail to smile at the lovely view of Mizar A, a fine double itself at 14" separation, with it's optical naked eye companion Alcor some way away in the scope, and the fainter star between them, at mag 8.5, called Sidus Ludovicanum (Google it!). I also noticed an even fainter star between the above faint star and Alcor, around mag 9 or less, which I hadn't  noticed before, I thought for a moment I'd discovered a Nova!😂

You have a very capable scope for doubles at 115mm, so I'd suggest you get a copy of the Cambridge Double Star atlas or if you can Sissy Haas' book, both of which contain enough great double and multiple system targets to last you a lifetime.

Congratulations on a great, satisfying night under what sounded like almost perfect skies.


Edited by F15Rules
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Nice write up Sunshine. Another double double worth looking at is Gamma Delphini - it's the star that makes up the nose of Delphinus, the Dolphin. In the same field of view is the double star Struve 2725

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Great report  your enthusiasm is nice to read.  I’m a double star fan.  The whole sky is stuffed with them, they are fascinating in their variety, doubles, triples, quads....well seen even with a light polluted sky or when the moon is up.

Also in Lyra is - the double-doubles double, easily resolved at low power and well worth checking out 👍


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