Mintaka (Delta Orionis) -- Multiple Star in Orion
It is going to be another great winter night. The stars are bright and stable and ready to go,
but not my 155mm refractor. Air currents within the tube are still degrading the image. This
happens all the time when I bring the large refractor out into the cold night air from the warm
house. I need to let it set for at least an hour before it stabilizes and it can perform its magic.
On a good night I hate to waste time waiting for anything. Thank goodness that my much
smaller vintage, early 1960s, 60mm f/15 refractor is attached to the larger refractor. It can
cool down and stabilize in as short as 10 minutes.
Mintaka is the western most star in Orion’s belt. Indeed, its translation is the “Belt”. It is a
complex multiple star system made up with at least seven stars. The bright primary and
only one of its companions (HD 36485) could be made out in the small refractor. But it was
a pretty pair of bright white & blue stars separated by over 50 arcseconds making it an easy
split with the 60mm refractor.
By the time I finish the drawing of Mintaka, the larger telescope had adjusted to the night air.
Its star images were now clean and bright. The smaller refractor had done its job and I
lovingly replace the dew cap over the 60mm objective and then pointed the larger refractor
to my next target of the night.