Sketching some double stars under the pristine sky of La Palma

I have just returned from a week of observing on the lovely island of La Palma (Spain). Mainly for deep sky, but since the seeing on the top of mountain is well known for its quality, I could not resist to observe at least SOME double stars as well . Here’s my catch.

First one up was Porrima on the very first day I arrived. The observation was done in the garden next to the house. The seeing here is less (but still adequate) and the darkness still reaches a comfortable 21.6 mpsas. Porrima was easily split, with both stars (evenly) bright. The colors were perceived as white, although the A component may have appeared a bit yellowish.

porrima, a double star in virgo

On top of the world

Four days later I made the trip to the top of the Roque de los Muchachos at 2400+ mtrs. The wind had calmed a bit and there was no risk of high clouds. I set up my telescope with perfect view on the southern horizon. The seeing was very good and darkness reached 21.8 mpsas.

telescope setup on the Roque de los Muchachos

Still in twilight I started observing Sirius and was hoping to spot the pup as well. I was not disappointed… Sirius was a marvellous sight, not at all the same as I’m used to viewing it in my home country. A beautiful, white light accompanied by a very tiny speck of light on the east side. Much weaker than I expected, but continuously visible.

Sirius, a double star in Canis Major
Sirius (Alpha CMa) & the pup (CMA)

The next day I went to the top again for an allnighter. Some double stars were again on the observation list. Fortunately, the sky/weather conditions were a copy of the previous day. I first looked at Gamma Velorum, selected not because it’s tough, but for the sheer beauty of it (pls forgive me). The main component is a very bright blue-white (Wolf–Rayet) star. Very neat, even at low altitude. It’s accompanied by a white/light-yellow star some 2.4 mag dimmer. A lot more stars were visible in the same field, enhancing the beauty even more.

Gamma Vela, a double star in Vela.

Later that night I observed Izar, which is a gorgeous double star. I used a higher magnification, which created a bit more “noise”, but the image was improved as a whole. Izar is a very bright yellow/golden star, while the companion is quite a bit dimmer (but still bright) and shows a pale blue color. The two were split comfortably and it was by far the best view I ever had on this pair.

Izar, a double star in Bootes

All “Star” sketches

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