Gamma Leporis & AK Leporis -- Double Star in Lepus
A Binocular Double Star in the Hare
At magnitude 3.6, Gamma Leporis, can be seen in the low southern sky from my suburban
house struggling in city glow from Washington D.C. In binoculars, or at low power in
telescopes, Gamma Leporis is a lovely double star. The star colors of pale-yellow and
pale-orange make this an attractive pair. The dimmer orange companion, AK Leporis, is a
variable star of the “BY Draconis Type”.
This pair of stars have the same motion through space and are separated by approximately
one light year from each other. It is not established that they are truly gravitationally bound to
each other. What has been established is that they are members of the “Ursa Major Moving
Group”. The “Ursa Major Moving Group” of stars is the closest stellar moving group to us
and thus appears spread out across our night sky. It is so named because it includes
several bright stars in the Big Dipper.
The Gamma Leporis pair was a pleasingly colorful sight in my vintage 60mm F/15
achromatic refractor even when the sky was dominated by a bright gibbous moon and the
southern horizon steep in sky glow. It was well worth the visit.