Struve 1659 - The Stargate


Struve 1659 - The Stargate
Move mouse over sketch above to view labels. Click image for larger version.

Observation Notes:

While making my way to M104 last week, I ran across this startling multiple star. I had read about "The Stargate", but wasn't counting on seeing it that night. The nearly symmetrical arrangement of the nested triangles is hard to miss, and difficult to peel my eyes away from once I saw it. One thing that I also noticed was the beautiful colors the stars appeared to display. The two bright central stars seemed to trade yellow and blue back and forth between each other. I finally settled on yellow for the southern and blue for the northern. The fainter star in the inner triangle appeared dull orange.

After preparing a sketch, I went to work with the astrometric eyepiece. The problem was I wasn't sure which star was the primary. I decided I'd use the bright, outer, southern star as primary. I was wrong. The southern inner star is considered the "A" star. After discovering this difference a few days later, I decided to transfer my measurements using my digital sketch as a measuring tool. I positioned the stars in my digital sketch using the original measurements I took. I then re-measured them from the correct A star with the tools Photoshop supplies. Most of my extrapolated measurements correspond nicely with 1998 values from Double stars in astrometric catalogs (Wycoff+, 2006).

Don't miss this incredible, colorful multiple star!

SubjectSTF 1659 (The Stargate)
ClassificationMultiple Star
Position (J2000)Corvus [RA: 12:35:43.5 / Dec: -12:01:29]*
Position Angle* AB: 354° [2008.5 my measurement] || 351.1° [1998.25 TMA2003]
AC: 63° [2008.5 my measurement] || 69.4° [1998.25 TMA2003]
AD: 34° [2008.5 my measurement] || 31.4° [1998.25 TMA2003]
AE: 274° [2008.5 my measurement] || 275.2° [1998.25 TMA2003]
AF: 138° [2008.5 my measurement] || 140.1° [1998.25 TMA2003]
Separation* AB: 28" [2008.5 my measurement] || 27.57" [1998.25 TMA2003]
AC: 46" [2008.5 my measurement] || 42.2" [1998.25 TMA2003]
AD: 198" [2008.5 my measurement] || 188.98" [1998.25 TMA2003]
AE: 149" [2008.5 my measurement] || 154.72" [1998.25 TMA2003]
AF: 208" [2008.5 my measurement] || 207.23" [1998.25 TMA2003]
Magnitudes*Under Review
Spectral Types*A: G0
B: -
C: -
D: -
E: G5
F: F0
Date/TimeJUN 21, 2008 - 10:00 PM MST (JUN 22, 2008 - 05:00 UT)
Observing Loc.Flagstaff, Arizona - Home
InstrumentOrion XT8 (203 mm dia./1200 mm F/L)
Eyepieces/Mag.10 mm Sirius Plössl + 2X Barlow (240X)
12 mm Meade Astrometric EP + 2X Barlow (200X)
ConditionsClear, breezy, pleasant
Seeing6/10 Pickering
TransparencyNELM Mag ~5.0
*ReferencesThe Washington Visual Double Star Catalog, 1996.0 (Worley+, 1996); Double stars in astrometric catalogs (Wycoff+, 2006); The Tycho-2 Catalogue (Hog+ 2000); SIMBAD; Starry Night Pro Plus 5.8


I am surprised you had never come across this little gem before. It has been on of my favorites since I first stumbled upon it when looking for M104, much as you did, many years ago. The arrangement of almost perfect overlapping equilateral triangles is dramatic. I had observed it for years before I realized it was a cataloged object!

Amateur observers have been stopping by for a look for over a century, this object was listed in Webb's 'Celestial Objects for Common Telescopes', appearing in my 1917 edition.

Heh, yeah, it's been on my to-do list for a while. Every time I read someone's description of it, I told myself I needed to make a point of putting my eyes on it the next time I was out. It just never quite made it to the top of the list until I hit it by accident that night.

It looks like you were trying to add a link to your comment, but it didn't make it. If you send me the URL, I can add it back in there for you.

Are you an historic astronomy book collector, by the way? Touring the older material in the Lowell Library was exciting when I had the opportunity a couple years ago.

Jeremy, I just wanted to say that your blog is awesome and full of great information. I was blown away by your art work and the double star tutorials. This a gold mine for anyone interested in double stars. I hope you continue to advance your digital sketching and preserve this fantastic art form for generations to come. Thanks for all your hard work.

Rob Keefe
Phoenix, AZ

I also discovered this multiple star on my own long before learning that it is a cataloged object with a name other than its Struve 1659 designation. And I also found it while looking for M 104. It is one of my favorites and I have shown it to many people.

Hi John, thanks for the comment. It sounds like it's been a pleasant surprise for a lot of starhoppers on the way to M104.

Hi Rob, I'm sorry I never replied to your comment. Thanks very much for the encouragement! I really do enjoy observing and recording the views this way. There are a number of observers out there doing much the same, so there is a growing variety of double & multiple star renderings to browse.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Jeremy Perez published on June 30, 2008 7:54 PM.

Advanced Observer's Program at Kitt Peak National Observatory was the previous entry in this blog.

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