April 2023 - Double Star of the Month
In the constellation Coma Berenices, in addition to the famous cluster of galaxies, there is also a grouping of naked-eye stars about 13 degrees north of the galaxy cluster. Taking the pairs 12 and 13 Comae and 14 and 16 as the vertices of an isosceles triangle, then the third vertex is occupied by STF 1633 (12 20 41.33 +27 03 16.4) a beautiful pair described by Webb as
Very pretty. Solitary. Observing it with a 21-cm reflector I found the colours to be yellow and delicate light blue.
Of the four bright stars in the 'triangle' only 12 appears to be in the double star catalogue. Also known as SHJ 143, this is a wide, unequal pair in 15-cm (magnitudes 4.9, 8.9, 167 degrees, 65") which should also show the more elusive 11.8 magnitude star at 57 degrees, 37" to A.
Just over a degree south of the Sombrero galaxy (M104), and over the border into Corvus is STF 1669 (12 41 16.22 -13 00 53.6) a beautiful visual double which turns out to be at least a physical quadruple star under the gaze of the spectroscope.
The AB components are both magnitude 5.9 and the current position and angle and separation is 314 degrees and 5".3. This shows a change of +15 degrees and -1".6 since being measured by Struve in 1828.
A third star (C) of magnitude 10.3 is 46" away in position angle 228 degrees. Strangely, Gaia DR3 records similar values for the trigonometrical parallax of stars A and C (equivalent to a distance of 266 light-years) whilst the B component is significantly nearer us (235 light-years) but is certainly regarded as physical by Dr. Andrei Tokovinin is his Multiple Star Catalog (MSC). The MSC notes that A has a period of 44.5 days whilst that of B is 3.15 days.
Bob Argyle - Double Star Section Director