Observe a suspected variable star

Do you want to help the SPA make a real discovery?

At the Society for Popular Astronomy Variable Star Section we currently have an observation programme containing 41 stars that we observe on a regular basis. Many of these stars are naked eye variable stars that mainly go unmonitored by other major astronomical societies. In February 2008 we launched a major project to observe and monitor the stars Delta Ursa Majoris (δ UMa) and Beta Leonis (β Leo).

These two stars are classed as suspected variables but data to date has proved inconclusive and we are hoping that the SPA VSS can go some way in making a discovery with these stars and finally conclude if indeed these stars are variable or not.

This is where we need your help!

We are asking for any amateur astronomers out there who can spare five minutes out of their observing schedules to make a note of both Delta UMa’s and Beta Leonis’ magnitudes and advise us of their observations. All we need is one observation per star per month which doesn’t sound a lot but the efforts made by the observers will go along way into helping our understanding of these stars. Making magnitude estimates is a simple process. All you need to do is use the comparison stars listed in the charts mentioned below. Find two stars, one brighter and one fainter than the variables in question, then state at what brightness you think the variable is at. Don’t forget you can use stars from other constellations if they are easier or more accurate to your estimate.

Here is the chart for Beta Leonis.

Position of Beta Leonis

And here is one for Delta Uma.

Position of Delta UMa

Please send your observations to the VSS Director by email to variablestar@popastro.com

Let’s make a discovery!