Carbon Star Observing – The Astronomical League Brings It Back With 100 Of The Finest Carbon Stars In The Northern Hemisphere


Red Star observing was a very popular facet of amateur astronomy from the 1800’s until about the mid-60’s.  Unfortunately, observing Carbon Stars, better known as Red Stars are seldom observed by amateurs of today.

I became interested in Carbon Stars during the mid-70’s, but it would be twenty years until I gained a real passion, or became a serious student of these beautiful and fabulous gems of the night sky. 

In the very early 90’s, Tom English and I became very good friends.  At that time, Tom was a professor of Astronomy and Physics at a local university, very close to my home.

 Tom gave presentations concerning Carbon Stars at some of our astronomy club meetings.  He discussed not only the visual beauty, but also the (B-V) color index scale, explaining in precise detail…exactly what it meant.  I soaked it all in.

I have taken a 12 year hiatus with my observing of both Carbon Stars and Doubles.  A couple years ago the Astronomical League introduced a new observing program, complete with a good quality slick covered book, covering 100 of the finest Carbon Stars in the northern hemisphere.

In recent years I’ve spent all of my observing time on galaxies, nebulae and star clusters.  However, now I’m ready for a change, and am ready to start on the AL Carbon Star list.  

I’m planning to log my observations on this site.  

The great thing about Carbon Stars…they can be observed in highly light polluted locations and even with a moon, however, like all deep-sky objects, they are best observed with a dark sky.  When observing with a moon, it’s best to observe carbon stars that are the most distant, as it can be impossible to determine the true color with the moon shinning into the telescope. 

Other than completing the AL Double Star List back in 1996, I’ve also observed and logged well over 200 other selected doubles over the years.  

Just recently, I put my 10-inch reflector into a closet….so it’s effectively in storage.  

I’m planning on observing far less faint galaxies, and nebulae this year, so am hopeful to use my 102 mm refractor for many of the brighter carbon stars.  A small to medium aperture telescope can work well with doubles and red stars within their light gathering capability and resolution.    

My small refractor is also quite a bit easier to set up than my 10-inch reflector.     

 Roger Ivester


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