Double Star Nomenclature

Many observing guides tend to use the old catalogue names for double stars, some of which use Greek letters, i.e. P for Burnham, 9 for Finsen and so on. This has nothing to do with the Flamsteed letters such as 5 Equulei but the current nomenclature in the Washington Double Star catalogue avoids such possible complications and tends to be favoured by the professional observers. In this scheme the star is referred to by its J2000 coordinates. Thus as an example we can take Castor which is X1110 (X being the Struve catalogue) but appears in the WDS catalogue as STF1110 where the discoverer is denoted by one, two or three letters and avoiding Greek names altogether. The WDS name for Castor is thus WDS07346+3153AB.

At the time of writing a vigorous debate is taking place in which a nomenclature that will account not only for visual double stars but spectroscopic and other kinds of pairs and exoplanets has been proposed. A scheme based on a modified WDS is being prepared for discussion at the next IAU in 2003.

In many cases the ADS (or Aitken Double Star Catalogue number) is still used but this system is no longer supported by the WDS, partly because it includes only 20% of all known pairs. References to the Burnham Double Star Catalogue (BDS) numbers are also occasionally to be found but again not in the WDS.

The short list below can be used to identify the abbreviated catalogue names used in this book in earlier chapters but it is not a complete list; this can be found on the WDS web page. The WDS system

Table 24.1.

Discoverer

Usually

WDS

Aitken, R.G.

A

A

Bos, W.H. van den

B

B

Brisbane Observatory

Brs0

BSO

Burnham, S.W.

ß

BU

CHARA

CHR

CHR

Dunlop, J.

A

DUN

Herschel, W.

H I, II etc

H 1,2 etc

Hough, G.W.

Ho

HO

Howe, H.A.

Hwe

HWE

Hussey, W.J.

Hu

HU

Kuiper, G.P.

Kui

KUI

Krueger, A.

Kr

KR

Lacaille, N

Lac

LCL

Luyten, W.

LDS

LDS

McAlister, H.A.

McA

MCA

Piazzi

Pz

PZ

Rossiter, R.A.

Rst

RST

South J. and Herschel, J.

Sh

SHJ

Struve, F, G.W.

S

STF

Struve Appendix Catalogue I

S I

STFA

Struve Appendix Catalogue II

S II

STFB

Struve, Otto

OS

STT

Pulkova Appendix Catalogue

OSS

STTA

usually consists of three letters and 4 numbers so if, for example, you wish to search the WDS for Dawes 4

then you need to look for the string DA----4 where the four blanks (-) are significant. In order to deal with the numerous designations of Herschel double stars and the various Pulkova catalogues, recent modifications have been made and these are shown in Table 24.1. In any case the ID string can be read as character format A7.

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