Alula Australis (Xi Ursae Majoris) -- Multiple Star in Ursa Major
Hind-Foot, Bottom-Toe of the Great Bear
For the past three-hours I had been working on galaxies in Leo Minor with my 6-inch
refractor from suburbia, under a truly exceptional sky. My eyes were tired (not to mention
the rest of my body). Too much straining to see galaxy level-details that were at times,
torturously subtle and faint – I was fatigued. To end the observing session, I swung the
telescope to the hind-foot, bottom-toe of the Great Bear (Ursa Major).
The star Alula Australis (Xi Ursae Majoris) marks the spot. The double-star Alula
Australis consists of two gold-white stars of nearly the same brightness. It was an easy
drawing, since there were no other stars visible in the high-power, field-of-view, of the
eyepiece; but I (and my eyes) were ready for something easy to end the observing
session – something bright and simple was just what I was after.
Of course, nothing is simple in astronomy, Alula Australis has an additional two Red
Dwarf stars and a Brown Dwarf (failed star), but these were way beyond my visual reach.
The two bright members shown in the drawing will be increasing their distance from one
another over the next several years. The literature usually states that they are separated
by around 1.3 arcseconds, but I had the feeling that they were further apart and thus
recorded it so.