Albireo, arguably the finest double star in the sky, is at its best visibility of the year tonight. To the naked eye it appears as a single star marking the head of Cygnus, the Swan. However, when viewed through a small telescope at low magnification (about 30x should do it) the star is split into components.
The brighter star (known as the primary) is a rich gold colour and appears to be slightly brighter than it’s sapphire blue companion, also known as the secondary. Double stars are a fascinating field of study for amateur astronomers as they not only prove to be a test of the equipment but also of the observer him or herself. Some have reported seeing violet or purple in the secondary star, demonstrating that colour, as well as beauty, lie in the eye of the beholder.
To find Albireo, you’ll first need to find the Summer Triangle of Vega, Deneb and Altair. These three stars will be nearly overhead around midnight; prior to that, they’ll appear toward the east. On the western side of the triangle you should easily be able to see the star. (Finding Deneb first is a definite plus as this star marks the top of a cross, with Albireo marking the bottom.)
Good opportunity to see Earthshine on the waning crescent Moon before sunrise.
The multiple star Albireo culminates at midnight tonight. (Magnitude 3.1. Cygnus, all night. See images above.)
Events in bold involve objects and/or events that are visible with the naked eye.
All times are in Universal Time (UTC). To convert the time to your timezone, click here.
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