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Algol minima April 4, 2012

Posted by aquillam in Astronomy, MichiganAstro.
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I can’t believe I haven’t posted this before!

http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/objects/variablestars/Minima_of_Algol.html

Here is a very nice tool I’ve been using for years to find out if I should watch Algol on any given evening.

Algol is an eclipsing binary star. The dimmer star of the pair blocks the light from the brighter one about every 2.6 days, so it drops quite a bit in brightness on a regular schedule.

It’s very cool to see Algol go into minima, especially in light polluted skies where the star disappears.  In Ann Arbor,  it basically goes from just about as bright as the Big Dipper stars to gone in a fraction of an hour. At first, you’re not sure it’s any different, so you go look at something else. Then you look back for it, and you can hardly find it. Wait another 10 minutes, and it’s gone. Not to worry though, it’ll be back in about 4 hours.

The times in this app are mid-eclipse, so start watching 2 to 2.5 hours before the time listed, or watch of it’s return beginning 1.5 – 2 hours after mid-eclipse.

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