Sunday 11 October 2020

Astrognome 100 Great Stars No. 37 Epsilon Lyrae


Epsilon Lyrae

William Herschel must have been amazed and delighted when in 1779 he turned his telescope to a 4th magnitude star just north-east of Vega. It was long known to be a double star. Through his telescope he saw that the two stars were themselves double. Herschel’s telescopes were superior to any being made at that time. Epsilon is the famous double double star in Lyra.

The two brighter star which can be seen with the naked eye are epsilon 1 which has a magnitude of 4.7 and epsilon 2 which has a magnitude of 4.6. They are about 166 light years away and take thousands of years to orbit each other. They are both A class stars hotter than our Sun.

The companion to epsilon 1 is a magnitude 6.0 star while the companion to epsilon 2 is a 5.4 magnitude star. The constellation of Lyra is very small but it does have so many interesting objects from Vega, to the variable star beta the double double and if you have telescope you can look for M57 the Ring Nebula.

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