Contrasting Star Pair in Auriga

January 06, 2017

EtaZeta_EPODl (3)

Photographer: Greg Parker
Summary Author: Greg Parker

For some time I've been very interested in pairs of naked eye stars that show contrasting colors. Carefully looking through my Planetarium program (the Sky 6) for new objects to image, I accidentally came across another impressive star pairing, this time in the constellation of Auriga. The stars 10-Eta Aurigae and 8-Zeta Aurigae form a striking bright blue/orange pairing.

10-Eta Aurigae is approximately 220 light years away and has a magnitude of 3.18 (naked eye visible). It's magnitude B is 2.97 and magnitude V is 3.14, giving a negative B-V value that's characteristic of blue stars. 8-Zeta Aurigae lies about 790 light years away and is slightly dimmer than its blue neighbor, with a  magnitude 3.69 (also naked eye visible). Its magnitude B is 5.25 and its magnitude V is 3.89, giving a positive B-V value that puts this star's emission in the orange part of the visible spectrum. 

Auriga is high in the eastern sky several hours after nightfall. For viewers in the Northern Hemisphere see if you can detect this blue/orange pairing. Photo taken on November 25, 2016, at the New Forest Observatory in southern England.

Photo Details:  Image acquired using the Sky 90 array; a total imaging time of  5.5 hours; using 5-minute sub-exposures.