With the Celestial Crab now approaching the meridian, it is a good time to introduce another double star primer to display some of the more accessible gems in the spring constellation, Cancer, for small backyard telescopes. This group of ten primary targets comes from a list that was first developed 12 years ago as I was beginning my double star imaging project. As it turns out, it was an abbreviated list of just 31 systems that was, not unsurprisingly, dominated by Struve systems. Therefore, this first offering has nothing in the obscure category and is heavily weighted in the Struve catalogues to the tune of eight of ten. But…within those 10 imaged star fields there lies 6 serendipitous captures and four of these are in what I would describe the less traveled double star catalogues.
Given that the primary list included only 31 systems, this tour will takes us to all corners of the constellation with a number of these systems departing on their star hops from two notable bright wide star pairs in two neighbouring constellations…those being Procyon and Gomeisa from Canis Minor and the Twins, Castor and Pollux, from Gemini. With a waxing moon, anyone prepared to do star hopping would be advised to wait until at least 3rd quarter when the third quarter moon rises late enough to provide some dark skies at a reasonable time after sunset. The brightest stars in Cancer were barely visible 2 nights ago with about a ¼ moon but I was surprised that the Beehive Cluster could be resolved as a foggy patch…almost galaxy like. I was out testing a 4.5” long focal length reflector that was my first telescope purchase some 20 years ago and I was quite surprised at the views it provided. Spikes on bright star were quite pronounced given the rather bulky arms of the straight spider that supported the secondary mirror. The very cheap focuser made focusing, an ordeal, but the optics, I think, warrants an upgraded focuser at which point this fine little scope can be gifted to a grand, niece or nephew.
In the last year I have assembled a new Cancer double star list numbering between 200 and 250 additional systems…many of which are to the dimmer side, but, do contain systems by many other lesser known discoverers. I’ve managed to image another 50 during 2022 and with the speed that Cancer is approaching the Meridian, I don’t expect to get too much further ahead. But…that could all change if I am gifted a few clear nights in the next two weeks. Needless to say, I should have enough material to prepare another tour for next year.
Clear skies and happy hunting!!