My mother says that when I was a child, I would go on learning jags. I'd get obsessed with one subject, learn everything I could about it, and then go on to another. My stargazing career is a bit like that too — especially when I'm observing near my city home.
A decade ago, I was obsessed with observing all the Messier objects. This culminated in my online Urban and Suburban Messier Guide, a project that I finished before I started working at S&T. That project required obsession, because observing all the Messier objects from light-polluted surroundings requires lots of effort and concentration. I would often drive 45 minutes to my astronomy club's observing field, spend hours at the telescope, and return home exhausted in the small hours of the morning.These days, I find short, frequent observing sessions more enjoyable than occasional, long, strenuous ones. Fortunately, there's an essentially inexhaustible supply of suitable targets. Unlike deep-sky objects, double stars are usually easy to find and observe. By analogy with hiking, my other favorite activity, a deep-sky object is like a mountaintop; it has a lot to offer, and once you've made the effort to get there, you want to spend a while. Double stars are like the stops on a nature trail. I linger at each one for just a minute or two, and then move on to the next. Deep-sky objects have many details to explore. With a double star, I just note the separation, the position angle, the relative brightnesses, the colors, and my overall impression — and that's really all there is to say.
The other beauty of double stars is that I don't have to travel far to see them. Thousands are visible and splittable even through small telescopes in the middle of a city. The Moon doesn't hurt them a bit, and they can even be viewed through thin clouds — which is just as well, considering the fickle weather we've been having recently.
I write more about double stars and the resources that I use to find them next week, or whenever I get a free moment. Bye 'til then.