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Herschel's Garnet Star

posted Jul 12, 2010, 3:13 AM by Grant Martin

There were lots of "Ooohhs & "Aahhs" last Friday (9 July 2010) at the Broemmelsiek park open house. I heard a lot of people commenting about Albireo (The Gold and Blue double star in Cygnus). A few people came by my scope and commented that they really liked that one. I showed them a few other doubles and colorful stars like Cor Caroli, Antares, Beta Scorpius and Alpha Hercules.


Later that night, after the crowd thinned out, I sat in my chair with a little book called “The Night Sky” from Running Press GEM and my 7x42 binoculars. The point was to refresh my memory with regard to the sky around Ursa minor, Draco and Cephus. While doing that I ran across a reference to Herschel's Garnet star (Mu Cephei). The reference mentioned that it was the reddest star visible to the naked eye.


Looking at the base of Cephus, I could just barely make out this star with averted vision. (it’s mag 4 so it was nearly blotted out by the severe light pollution from St. Chuck). It pops right into view with binoculars and indeed, it is not white at all. In fact, it appears to be the color of Mars. It is certainly redder that Antares (“Rival to Mars”).


I like to find lists of nice easy objects to share with people but I don’t recall seeing this item on any of those lists. It’s easy to find and an unusual object to look at. Look for it about two binocular fields of view from Deneb between Deneb and Cassiopia.


From here on out it will be rising in the Northeast. At 10PM it is 40 degrees above the horizon and rising higher each night!


Here is a link to more information and a finder chart for Herschel’s Garnet star:


Finder chart (Click for full size):