Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 47.djvu/815

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797
PLEASURES OF THE TELESCOPE.

We come now to Ursa Major's principal attraction ζ, frequently called Mizar. The naked eye perceives near it a smaller star, called Alcor. With the three-inch glass and a medium power we divide Mizar into two bright stars brilliantly contrasted in color, the larger being white and the smaller blue-green. Beside Alcor, several fainter stars are seen scattered over the field of view, and, taken all in all, there are very few equally beautiful sights in the starry heavens. The magnitudes of the double are three and four, distance 14·5″, p. 148°. The large star is again double, although no telescope has been able to show it so, its duplicity being revealed, like that of β Aurigæ, by the periodical splitting of the lines in its spectrum.

Ursa Major contains several nebulæ which may be glimpsed with telescopes of moderate dimensions. An interesting pair of these objects, both of which are included in one field of view, is formed by 1949 and 1950. The first named is the brighter of the two, its nucleus resembling a faint star. The nebula 2343 presents itself to us in the form of a faint, hazy star, but with large telescopes its appearance is very singular. According to a picture made by Lord Rosse, it bears no little resemblance to a skull, there being two symmetrically placed holes in it, each of which contains a star.

The portion of Canes Venatici, represented in map No. 26, contains two or three remarkable objects. Σ 1606 is a close double, magnitudes six and seven, distance 1″, p. 336°. It is a pretty sight with the five-inch. The double star 2 is singular in that its larger component is red and its smaller blue; magnitudes six and eight, distance 11·4″, p. 260°. Still more beautiful is 12, commonly called Cor Caroli. This double is wide, and requires but a slight magnifying power. The magnitudes are three and six, distance 20″, colors white or light yellow and blue. The nebula 3572, although we can see it only as a pair of misty specks, is in reality a very wonderful object. Lord Rosse's telescope has revealed in it a complicated spiral structure, recalling the photographs of the Andromeda nebula, and indicating that stupendous changes must be in process within it, although our records of observation are necessarily too brief to bring out any perceptible alteration of figure. It would seem that the astronomer has, of all men, the best reasons for complaining of the brevity of human life.

Lastly, we turn to Ursa Minor and the Pole Star. The latter is a celebrated double, not difficult, except with a telescope of less than three inches aperture in the hands of an inexperienced observer. The magnitudes are two and nine, distance 18·5″. The small star has a dull blue color. In π′ we discover a wide double, magnitudes six and seven, distance 30″, p. 83°.

This completes our survey of the starry heavens.