Winter Albireo (h3945) in Canis Major
The Finest Double Star In The Winter Night Sky
While scanning my new issue of Sky & Telescope (March 2018) I noticed Fred Schaaf’s column
where he mentioned the Winter Albireo (h3945). I looked up the coordinates of the double-star and
was surprised to see that it was only 2 degrees from the Tau Canis Majoris Cluster (Northern Jewel
Box) which I already had on my list to observe the next clear night.
Last night, after locating, but before drawing, the “Northern Jewel Box”, I sent the telescope two-
degrees north to check out his double-star. Although I was by myself, I gave an audible WOW when
this colorful double-star came into view. It immediately came to my mind that I was looking at the
most attractive double-star in the whole of the winter night sky. How could I have missed not
knowing about it for 40+ years of stargazing?
This morning I checked my old records and I had observed it before. It was back in 1965 when I
viewed it with my 60mm f15 refractor from Oregon. I was not yet in high school and my only star
guide, at the time, was Olcott and Mayall’s “Field Book of the Skies”. In this 1929 book, only 4
double-stars were listed for Canis Major and h3945 was the last listed with no additional notes. My
notes from February 1965 just says, “nice pair” and nothing else. Was that ever an understatement!
Even if you are not a double-star lover, you will like this one. Do not pass this one up!