Project Leader: Alan Plummer @alan-plummer
John Tebbutt observed the luminous blue variable Eta Carinae (then Eta Argus) and the long period variable R Carinae through the late 19th century. These observations, with their comparison stars, were published in a series of MNRAS papers and they have not yet been entered into the AAVSO international database. Entering this data into the database will make it widely available for study.
Today, R Car is a suggested star for visual variable star beginners, and Eta Car is good too. These will be observed by any interested observers with the goal of using the best techniques possible in observing, time recording, accuracy, etc. (This of course doesn’t mean that observers will get the same estimates. Each observer wants their own measures!)
Observations from both the late 19th century and today will be entered into the AAVSO data base. Light curves can then be generated, examined, and discussed. Depending on results, this will be publishable in the JAAVSO, the VSS Newsletter, or in some popular magazine. New observers can learn many things from this project: Techniques, history, the two classes of variables, etc.
Time and equipment
Because any light curve analysis here is to be historical in nature, it isn’t necessary for the new observations to extend for more that a year (more or less). No more time is needed to achieve the goals in Part 2. That time can be expected to cover one cycle of R Car, and who knows what Eta Car will do. Possibly Eta may drop slightly in magnitude over the year.
7 X 50 binoculars are a minimum requirement, as well as larger binoculars or a 90-100 mm telescope. Correct VSS RASNZ charts will be provided, as well as any help necessary.
If you’re interested in joining this project and are a member of VSS, please contact Alan Plummer @alan-plummer.