Since the beginning of this year I've been pursuing a new purpose filled activity, CCD photometry of variable stars. Any worthwhile activity requires "doing your homework" therefore a number of months were dedicated to making contacts with knowledgeable people, learning new software, practicing and developing new skills. Finally, about halfway through the year I was at the telescope attempting the initial data collections. The initial observations have gone well, and I am confident in the data collected.
The target list for this summer has included three M types (Miras) and three semi-regular types (SRA and SRB) located in the constellation Cygnus. These stars are BG Cyg, R Cyg, RS Cyg, RZ Cyg, V Cyg, and WX Cyg. The only one to elude my camera so far has been V Cyg, a M type carbon star with a B-V color index of 2.45, extremely red. It has been too bright for observing with the V photometric filter, and to dim for me in the B photometric filter. But the star has changed in the last few months, and I hope to register measurable data soon.
Attached are a couple graph plots that I've contributed toward, called light curves which illustrate star brightness (magnitude on the vertical axis verses time on the horizontal). Each symbol represents an observation by a variable star observer. Black symbols are purely visual estimates, the red, green, or blue symbols indicate a photometric observation made through special red, green, or blue photometric filters. Also, included are two pics showing my CCD photometry gear: a 102mm f/7 William Optics refractor, an 80mm guidescope, and a 50mm f/1.4 video finder cam. Since the mount in my backyard observatory is a vintage manual push-pull with a Losmandy Digital drive and not a goto, the video cam finder has been a lifesaver for finding variables in crowded star fields. Cable management will be my next challenge as you can tell from the picture with the lap tops.
If you are looking for a rewarding activity that adds to the science of astronomy, I recommend finding out more about CCD photometry. There is a galaxy of variable stars visible from your backyard every night that seek your attention. And of course, variable star astronomy rocks!!
Edited by Jamey L Jenkins, 14 September 2019 - 03:40 PM.