One year ago, I introduced the double star marathon — a double star enthusiast’s answer to the annual Messier marathon. Nearly 70 of you requested the list, and two — Ben Rubel of Framingham, Massachusetts, and Jerry Oltion of Eugene, Oregon — captured all or most of them.
I wasn’t as successful. A week prior to the March 12–13 Messier marathon weekend, I did a trial run on the doubles hugging the western horizon after sunset. Starting at 7 p.m. with my trusty 10-inch reflector, I whipped through the soon-to-set doubles in Cassiopeia, Aries, Triangulum, Andromeda, Perseus, Pisces, and Eridanus. Once I completed the trial run, I couldn’t help but continue. (Once you’ve “tasted” one double star, you can’t stop.) I notched Polaris and then hit the doubles in Taurus and Orion. I then worked my way eastward, finally stopping at 9:50 p.m. with the pretty pair 54 Leonis. My final tally was 43 of the first 46. I missed three close pairs because of iffy seeing conditions.
I was primed for the main event when the bug hit — and it wasn’t the double star variety. A few days after my trial run, I came down with a nasty, lingering cold that sidelined me well into April. It denied me an opportunity to test the visibility of the double stars coming up in the east before dawn. My best take on the viability of my double star marathon list comes from the reports Rubel and Oltion sent me.