Stars

Aim your viewer at the six-fold star of the Saucepan

© Shutterstock

About the six-fold star

At first glance, the star Mizar looks like the other in the Saucepan. But if you look better, you can see that one is close by: Alcor.

Alcor and Mizar are only separated by about a light year and the two stars revolve slowly around each other.

© Shutterstock

Mizar and Alcor have been known since ancient times, but in the 17th century astronomers discovered that Mizar itself was twofold.

And around 1900 they saw that each of the two parts of Mizar consists of two stars. Mizar is therefore a star system of four stars that revolve around each other.

In 2009, Alcor also appeared to consist of several stars: a large, bright star and a small so-called red dwarf. Alcor and Mizar therefore contain a total of six stars, five of which are probably larger than the sun.

STAR GUIDE

  • WHERE AND WHEN?

    Around midnight you will find the Saucepan high above your head in the northwest. Mizar is the second to last star of the 'stem', and Alcor is right next to it.

  • VISIBILITY?

    You can distinguish Alcor and Mizar with the naked eye, but to see all six stars you need a giant telescope.

  • HOW?

    Use an SLR camera with a short telephoto lens if you want to take photos of the Saucepan. Focus manually and use a tripod and self-timer. Shutter speed 2 to 10 seconds, aperture 4-8, and adjust your ISO accordingly.

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