β Lyrae

Beta Lyrae (Sheliak—The Tortoise, which was what the Arabs called the entire constellation).

Place Vega at the northern rim of your glasses and move one field south; beta Lyrae will be on the northeastern edge of your glasses. binoculars.

Beta is a very fine binary for small telescopes (creamy-white and blue, or possibly yellow and pinkish?):
      AB: 3.6, 6.7; 147º, 44.8".
      AE: 3.6, 10.1; 318º, 66.3".

The star is also an irregular variable; every thirteen days it drops from 3.2 to 4.4 magnitude. Compare with nearby gamma Lyrae (3.3), to the southeast.

Four Struve binaries are in this field of view:
      Struve 2349AB (white/blue): 5.4, 9.4; 204º, 7.4".
      Struve 2367 is a multiple system:
          AB: 7.7, 8.0; 75º, 0.4"
          AC: 7.1, 8.8; 192º, 14.3".
          AD: 7.1, 12.0; 84º, 21.9".
          AE: 7.1, 11.0; 341º, 151.7".
      Struve 2376 (two white): 8.7, 9.3; 62º, 22.2".
      Struve 2397 (yellow-orange and blue): 7.5, 9.1; 266º, 3.9".


Now place beta in the extreme western edge of your binoculars.

In this field is the remarkable planetary nebula known as The Ring Nebula (M57). With an apparent magnitude of 8.8 but a very small size, large binoculars might pick out the object, but it's best seen in medium to large telescopes.
      It lies midway between beta and gamma, making the object easy to locate.

17 Lyrae (Struve 2461) is a multiple system with the two most accessible members in a straight line:
      AB: 5.3, 9.1; 290º, 3.7".
      AD: 5.3, 9.0; 291º, 136.8".

Also found here is the multiple system Otto Struve 525:
          AB (yellow-orange/blue): 6.1, 9.1; 129º, 1.8".
          AC: 6.1, 7.6; 350º, 45.2".
          AD: 6.1; 11.0; 295º, 215.3".

Finally, the ‘other’ remarkable double-double: Struve 2470 and Struve 2474:
          Struve 2470 (white/blue): 7.0, 8.4; 269º, 13.8".
          Struve 2474 (yellow/yellow): 6.8, 7.9; 262º, 16.1".


With beta on your western edge, move one binocular field southeast, to the globular cluster M56.

While its member are only of a magnitude 13 or so, the total visual magnitude is 8.3. Binoculars will show a hazy ball; it takes a large telescope to get any satisfaction out of the cluster. The most remarkable thing about the object is its age, which is estimated at 13 billion years old.

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© 1999-2014 by Richard Dibon-Smith.