Published in astro.philica.com
Designed to fail? - the current state of amateur double star astronomy.
Two stars orbiting around their center of mass are called a binary star. Binary stars are important in astrophysics for a number of reasons - not least since orbital studies allows the mass of the stars to be determined. Various sub-types of binary star exist such as optical binaries, spectroscopic binaries and eclipsing binaries.
Optical double stars are just “line of sight” arrangements of no scientific importance.
Historically it was very difficult to distinguish between the wheat (binary stars) and the chaff (double stars). For this reason the Washington Double Star Catalog (WDS) is a mixture of three types of object.
§ Binary stars
§ Double stars
§ Stars that, without further information, might fall into either class
It is clear from looking at the results published by amateurs that many of them are wasting their time measuring systems that the professionals already know or very strongly suspect to be optical double stars. The need for three quite distinct catalogues is clear so that observations can be better targeted.
In December 2006 Nicholson stated: “One of the difficulties that faces those of us pushing at the boundary of “standard practice” is the tendency of some colleagues within the field of double star astronomy to interpret any criticism of the status quo as being a criticism of the people involved rather than of the systems currently in use. Instead of a free exchange of ideas the debate usually sinks to the level of name-calling or those in charge simply ignore the questions asked of them.”
The problem is further compounded by the lengthy delay between the making of observations, feedback being received and publication of the results in the standard catalogue.
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This Observation was published on 5th February, 2007 at 11:59:33 and has been viewed 6319 times.
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The full citation for this Observation is:|
Nicholson, M. (2007). Designed to fail? - the current state of amateur double star astronomy.. PHILICA.COM Observation number 35.