Double Stars

Never underestimate the beauty of double stars. What may first appear as a single brilliant star in the night sky may actually be two stars and, with the proper eye training or even a low-costing pair of binoculars, you’ll be able to see so for yourself. Of course, double stars come in two varieties, visual and gravitationally bound, and to figure out which one you’re looking at will require research.

Mizar — the star in the bend of the handle of the big dipper — is a classic example. With really good eyes you should be able to make out Mizar’s companion: Alcor. But with a small telescope you’ll see a third star forming a triangle with the first two, and finally yet another faint companion to Mizar.

Other pairs show contrasting color. Albireo is the gold and green pair, and Almach is the orange and blue pair. All double star systems have wonders to reveal. Check back here for latest tips on observing our favorite pairs.