Observing Variable Stars
by David Levy
Looking for a fun astronomical activity that needs only binoculars or even the naked eye? How about observing variable stars? These intriguing stars change in brightness over a period of time, some predictably, others very unpredictably; some, over a period of a few days, others, hundreds of days; some remaining easily visible in binoculars, others plunging to cavernous levels of faintness. In his book Observing Variable Stars: A Guide for the Beginner, David Levy, the keynote speaker at this month’s Northern Prairie Star Party, describes the various kinds of variable stars and how to measure their brightness. The last section of the book is a handy guide, constellation by constellation, describing selected variable stars that can be seen during each of the four seasons. The author explains, “Quite aside from being objects of interest, the cyclic patterns are fun to watch. We observe variables for science, but also for sport. After a night of variable star observing we feel good…we have looked at the sky, and taken its pulse”.
Check out this book, four other books by David Levy, and hundreds of other books, at The Lamplighter Memorial Library, just off the entrance to the star theater.