Monday, February 23, 2009

Double Star Rigel

Since my $1,200 Nikon won't work right on stars I tuned up my other astrostuff tonight to see if I could split a few double stars with my $79 Philips Toucam Pro webcam and my 8" Celestron telescope.

Our own Sun being a notable exception, most stars are double stars, or even double doubles. The bright star Rigel lives about 770 light years from your bedroom and you probably know it as the right foot of the hunter Orion.

Rigel is the sixth brightest star in the sky, is a noted double and its B companion is clearly evident in this nice image taken from my deck tonight. About 400 1/50th-sec movie images were stacked in freeware RegiStax.

We are looking at the way the star appeared at about the time of the signing of the Magna Carta. Splitting this duo is the equivalent of being able to read the title of this page from three football fields away.