November 2014 - Double Star of the Month

10 Arietis (=STF 208, 02 03 39.26 +25 56 07.6) is a marginally naked-eye star at the preceding end of a string of similar stars some 2.5 degrees north of alpha Arietis. Found by F G W Struve in 1821, when the separation was 2", the motion of the companion over the next 80 years appeared more or less linear but it became progressively more curved as the pair closed to 1". The companion then made a closest approach at 0".3 in 1920 or so and since then has widened and can be found at 347 degs, 1".49 in 2014.8. The currently accepted period is 325 years but this could well be an underestimate as nothing is known about the motion at apastron. The pair should be divided in 15-cm but a good night is needed because the magnitudes of the stars are 5.8 and 7.8. A 13.5 mag. can be glimpsed 95" distant in PA 150 degs.

kappa Tucanae (01 25 45.50 -68 52 34.5) is located about 5 degrees north following the Small Magellanic Cloud and Burnham's Handbook spends a lot of time on the latter but only notes in passing the former which is a splendid object for both binoculars and telescope. For the binocular user there is a mag 7.8 star which is 319" from the mag 5.00 primary. John Herschel found A to be a fine pair (HJ 3423, mags 5.0 and 7.7) - 'very beautiful' was his verdict. E J Hartung gives the colours as yellow and orange. Two measures at Feldhausen yielded separations of 2" and 2.5" and a mean position angle of 11.7 degrees. Recent measures in 2009 show that the separation has doubled to 4".8 and the position angle is now 319 degs. This is a binary system with a period of about 850 years.

In 1895 Robert Innes found that the distant 7.8 mag star was also double but much more equal in brightness (7.8 and 8.4) and also a binary of fairly short period. He was using a reflecting telescope owned by Mr. F. Dixon Edmonds, an early member of the BAA, and in presenting his list of 16 new pairs Innes said that the telescope had enabled the 'discovery of more new double stars than all the rest of the silver-on-glass reflectors ever made'. I 27 CD revolves every 85.2 years in a circular orbit only slightly tilted to the line of sight so the separation ranges between 0".9 an 1".1 and the angular motion is a fairly constant 4 degrees or so. Innes also noted that both AB and CD have similar proper motions so this is likely a quadruple system.

Bob Argyle - Double Star Section Director