VSS News for October 2018

Over the last month several members have been kind enough to send in their variable star observations. I’ve received observations from Bob Steele, David Buehler, Don Matthews, Jonathan Shanklin and Tracie Heywood. All member’s observations will be published in the annual VSS report next March. In the meantime, here are a couple of light curves sent in by Tracie Heywood.

Over the course of October, several of the long-period variables in our program will be on the rise. Omicron Ceti (Mira) and Chi Cygni are rising and due to reach maximum in December. While T Ursa Majoris and S Ursa Majoris are also expected to rise and reach maximum in November. Both Mira and Chi Cygni have the potential to reach naked eye visibility; but Chi Cygni will be low in the west by December and may be tricky for some people to obverse. When at maximum, T Ursa Majoris and S Ursa Majoris will reach about the seventh magnitude; so should be easily seen in binoculars. Of course with long-period variables, it is impossible to say exactly when they will reach maximum and how bright they’ll be, each cycle of variation is unique. However, it’s the uncertainty in the behaviour of long-period variables that makes them so interesting to observe.

There is also a couple of opportunities to observe Beta Persei (Algol) and RZ Cassiopeiae in October. For the night owls among you, RZ Cassiopeiae will be in mid-eclipse on the evenings of the 22nd and 27th of October, at 00:00 UT and 23:30 UT respectively. Algol will also be in mid-eclipse on the evening of the 22nd at 23:50 UT.

The charts for all of these stars are available on the website.