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Double Star Club - 100 of the finest double & multiple stars in the heavens. al-dstar.pdf 
(581 KB)

The Astronomical League's

Rules and Regulations
Deep Sky List

by John Wagoner

American Association of Amateur Astronomers


Welcome to the Astronomical League's Double Star Club. The purpose of the double Star Club is to introduce observers to 100 of the finest double and multiple stars in the heavens. You don't need a large, expensive apochromatic refractor to view the objects on this list, since a small refractor, a Newtonian reflector, or a Schmidt-Cassegrain will do just fine. All objects on this list were observed with a three-inch refractor using between 75x and 150x. This program is meant to allow you to enjoy a different aspect of our wonderful hobby, and not to test your equipment.

Double star observing can be very forgiving. You don’t need the darkest skies, the clearest skies, or even a moonless night to observe many of these objects. Some can be observed from your backyard under moderate light pollution, some can be observed under less than transparent skies, and some can even be observed with the moon up. However, as usual in astronomy, the best results can be obtained under optimum conditions. The point is, always try for the best conditions, but if you don’t have them, don’t worry about it. You can still enjoy this program

Rules and Regulations

To quality for the AL's Double Star Certificate and pin, you need only be a member of the Astronomical League, either through an affiliated club or as a Member-at-Large, and observe the 100 selected objects on the included list. Any telescope may be used, but one with an objective of 60mm diameter or larger is recommended.

To record your observations, you may use the log sheet provided, or one with similar information. If you use your own log sheets, they should include: object, date, and a drawing of the double or multiple system. Yes, I said a drawing of the double star. Now, before you panic, how hard is it to draw two dots in the box provided, with the size of the dot indicating magnitude, and the distance between the dots representing separation! I have given you a line for a description, but this is optional and not required. I have included this so that if you are inspired by any one double star, you can write down your thoughts or feelings for later reference.

To receive your Double Star Certificate and pin, simply send your observations along with your name, address, phone number, and club affiliation, either to your club’s Awards Coordinator for verification, or to:

Mike Benson, 
AL Binocular Coordinator, 
2308 Dundee Lane, 
Nashville, TN 37214-1520 
Phone (615) 883-6571. 
E-mail: ocentaurus@aol.com

Upon verification of your observations, your certificate will be forwarded either to you or your club's Awards Coordinator, as you choose.

If you need to become a member of the Astronomical League as a Member-at-Large, contact Jackie Beucher, AL Executive Secretary, 11305 King Street, Overland Park, KS 66210-3421. (913) 469-0135. E-Mail: M31@sky.net.

You may also join The American Association of Amateur Astronomers, The Internet Astronomy Club, which is a member society of the Astronomical League. Join on-line at our web page: www.AsroMax.com. Or send a check for $20 ($25 family) for each membership to: AAAA, P.O. Box 7981, Dallas, TX 75209-0981. E-Mail: aaaa@AstroMax.com.

AAAA Members: If you have completed an AL observing project, submit your observations directly to the AAAA for certification. Be sure to send COPIES only. Do NOT send original photographs or observing logs.

Good luck, clear skies, and good observing.

Jon Wagoner, AAAA

Plano, TX. - May 1, 1995

Double Star Rating System

  •  Description
  • Every double star you try is not splitable. Better relax in your living room while reading a book, visit your friends or initiate more productive tasks.
  • Only the most open doubles are splitable with difficulty. Almost no diffraction rings. The sensation is like "looking up from the bottom of  a swimming pool". Probably, your new refractor is having its first lights after two weeks of clouds. Same recommendations as for classification 0 apply here.
  • Pickering-1: Star image is usually about twice the diameter of the third diffraction ring (if the ring could be seen).
  •  Seeing very similar like observing from inside your living-room in winter without waiting for thermal equilibrium. 3 stars in the Trapezium are resolved at 40x during few seconds. Delta Orionis is observed as a double without problems.
  • Pickering-2: Image occasionally twice the diamteter of the third ring.
  •  It's difficult to use more than 50x, but every really open double is splitable. This is the minimum level you can expect to start double star observing. Maybe a bit boring for some people, but at least you can observe some traces of coloration on the components. If after some time of doubles observation you resign and start to hunt for faint-fuzzies, then this is the more suitable classification that night.
  • Pickering-3: Image about the same diameter as the third ring and brighter at the center.
  •  Observing coloration in double-star components is easy, but Epsilon Lyrae is not splitable yet.
  •  Pickering-4: The central disk often visible; arcs of diffraction rings sometimes seen.
  • Trapezium easy at 40x consistently, but using more than 100x is a nightmare. Epsilon Lyrae starts to split during very short periods of time.
  • Pickering-5: Disk always visible; arcs frequently seen.
  • Epsilon Lyrae is splitable almost 100% of time. Anyway, you can use 28x per inch of aperture with your telescope. This is the minimum recommended level to start making serious double star observing. You can measure separations and position angles using a reticled eyepiece and remain observing doubles along all the observing session.
  • Pickering-6: Disk always visible; short arcs constantly seen.
  • Epsilon Lyrae easily splittable. You don't feel tired of observe the beautiful diffraction rings on Castor while the time goes by. You feel your observing session is really productive and your Barlow lens brings out from your pocket.
  • Pickering-7: Disk sometimes sharply defined; rings seen as long arcs or complete circles.
  • Using a solar glass filter you can perfectly observe granularity on the Sun's surface with a good 4" aperture achromatic refractor. Easy to go up to 50x per inch of aperture using a refractor. Epsilon Lyrae splits using 60x with this observing instrument and Antares splits at 250x when located only 18 degrees over the horizon. You don't hear your wife/husband when she/he calls you because she/he doesn't find the TV remote control.
  • Pickering-8: Disk always sharply defined; rings as long arcs or complete but in motion
  • This is the same as 10, but the seeing is not stable at all and comes and goes, sometimes downing to 8.
  • Pickering-9: Inner ring stationary. Outer rings momentarily stationary.
  • Perfect Airy disk with textbook diffraction rings. Rules of maximum theoretical magnification break. Good achromatic refractors able to take up to 75x per inch of aperture. Apo and fluorite refractors reach 100x per inch of aperture or even a bit more. This condition is stable.
  • You stay at telescope several hours but the time doesn't go by for you and you feel tempted to start crying when the first lights from the rising Sun come.
  • Pickering-10: Complete diffraction pattern is stationary.

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You MUST be a member of the Astronomical League, either through membership in an affiliated astronomical society or as a Member-at-Large, to receive certification for the Double Star Club.

As a member of the AAAA, not only are you eligible to earn this observing award, but you will also get your own subscription to the Astronomical League's newsletter, the REFLECTOR, as well as our own quarterly newsletter, The American Astronomer.

Join the AAAA, the first nationwide astronomy club for all amateur astronomers

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