Alert Notice 791: Anticipated secondary eclipse of b Per centered on September 29 2022 UT

September 9, 2022

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Dr. Donald F. Collins (AAVSO member), Dr. Robert Zavala (US Naval Observatory, Flagstaff Station), Jason Sanborn (Lowell Observatory), and Dr. Anatoly Miroshnichenko (University N. Carolina, Greensboro) have requested highly time-resolved observations of the bright star b Persei during the upcoming predicted secondary eclipse of the third star as it passes behind the AB inner pair.

They provide the following information:

"The bright (4.6V) hierarchical triple-star system b Persei (HD 26961, HIP 20070, HR 1324, SAO 24531) consists of a non-eclipsing close-orbiting binary pair (1.53 d period) and a third star in a highly inclined orbit (period = 704.48 d). The close-orbiting binary pair shows ellipsoidal variation of about 0.06 magnitude peak-to-peak. The AAVSO has discovered that the third star undergoes eclipses with the close-orbiting binary pair. These consist of primary eclipses (the third star partially blocks the light from the close orbiting pair) and secondary eclipses (the close-orbiting pair partially or fully block the light of the third star). Previous AAVSO campaign* results beginning in January 2015 are shown in Figures 1 and 2. The light curves show out-of-eclipse ellipsoidal variations as well as relatively deep eclipses during the transits. Eclipses in the b Persei system were unknown until the first AAVSO observations in 2013 (Collins 2013).

"The observation window should last at least 2 weeks beginning about September 19, 2022, which is about 10 days before the predicted date of mid-eclipse (UT September 29.41, 2022 ± 0.1 d ). It is important that observers observe several long time-series observations both before the eclipse and after the eclipse as well as all parts of the eclipse.

“Observers are asked to obtain high-resolution time-series observations of long duration (several hours) in V (or the green channel from DSLR cameras) during the eclipses as well as as many as possible out-of-eclipse time-series observations of the system during the 20-day window centered on the September 29 eclipse (September 19 – October 8). Out-of-eclipse data are needed to calibrate the various offsets expected from different observing systems.

“It is recommended to use the star labeled '55' (AUID 000-BLL-386 = HIP 20156 = SAO 39457 = HR 1330 = HD 270840) in the AAVSO finder chart at 5.456 V for the comparison star. For a check star HIP 20370 (J2000 RA, Dec = 04 21 45.47 +50 02 06.64) may be used if the observer's field of view is about one degree. This star is not in the AAVSO sequence. Any other AAVSO sequence stars may be used as a check star if available in the observer's field of view. New observers are welcome - especially Asian and Pacific observers to help fill the gaps in the transit light curves. Atmospheric scintillations are a major problem with bright star observations due to the necessary short exposure times. These are removed by obtaining many short exposures which can then be averaged by image stacking or averaging the results of many short exposures.

"DSLR guidelines may be found in the AAVSO DSLR Observing Manual. Another resource for DSLR photometry may be found by Buchheim (2018, used with Buchheim’s permission) ."

"Recent campaigns by AAVSO observers (AAVSO Alert Notices 476 (Jan 2013), 507 (Jan 2015), 537 (Feb 2016), 563 (Dec 2016), 610 (Jan 2018), 655 (Oct 2018), 688 (Dec 2019), and 721 (October 2020)) have revealed the following:

1. Both the primary and secondary transits show significant light curve dips in total brightness on the order of 0.1 mag to 0.5 mag.

2. Distinguishing between primary and secondary eclipses has been made possible from radial velocity observations by Anatoly Miroshnichenko, which are shown as a dashed curve for the December 2016 eclipse in Figure 1. The long period radial velocity of the A star shows that the A star begins to approach the Earth after passing from beyond the transit. Only the A star exhibits suitable spectral lines for RV measurements.

3. The orbital period for the C star is 704.5 ± 0.1 d, based on a linear fit to the fitted dates of the four high-resolved time-series of secondary eclipses. The previously published orbital period is 702 d (Hill 1976).

4. Each transit (or eclipse) is different – due to the lack of a simple commensurate relationship between the short period A-B stars and the long period of the of the AB-C triple system.

5. The deepest relative minimum observed occurred during the primary eclipse of January 2020 at mJD 1867.4 (Figure 2). The solid curve in Figure 2 (the simple model) calculates the result if the C star (spectral class F, luminosity 2 x Lsolar) is fully ingressed over the “disk” of the primary star A (spectral class A-V, luminosity 10 x Lsolar).

Figure 1. The four previously-observed secondary eclipses of b Persei. The solid black curves are a simple model fit to the observations. The different colors and symbols in the observations represent the individual observations contributed by the various observers. The dashed sinusoidal curve in the middle panel represents the graphical radial velocity of the component star A based on data from A. Miroshnichenko. The red solid sinusoidal curves in each panel represent the fit to ellipsoidal data. The heavy black curves are a simple model fit to the observations.


Figure 2. The four previously-observed by AAVSO primary eclipses of b Persei. The different colors and symbols for the observations represent the different observers who contributed to the data. The solid black curves are a simple model fit to the observations. The lighter sinusoidal curves represent the fit to ellipsoidal data.

Coordinates (2000): R.A. 04 18 14.62 Dec. +50 17 43.8 (from VSX entry for b Per)

Finder charts with comparison stars for b Per may be created using the AAVSO Variable Star Plotter (VSP).

Please submit all photometry data to the AAVSO International Database via WebObs at the AAVSO site using the name “B PER”.

Be sure to subscribe to the forum threads given above to be advised of latest developments, eclipse onsets, and observing ideas.

Buchheim, R. K. 2018, “Lessons from DSLR Photometry of b Per “Third Star” Eclipse (February 2018)”, SAS-2018 The Symposium on Telescope Science and ALPO Annual 2018 Meeting, Proceedings for the 37th Annual Conference of the Society for Astronomical Sciences [] pp 71-77.
[Note: Bob Buchheim has given AAVSO permission to make available a stand-alone copy of his presentation on the AAVSO web site for observers' easy access – dfc]

Collins, D. F. 2013, “Observations of an Eclipse of bright star b Persei by the Third Star in February 2013”,, AAVSO Spring 2013 meeting, Boone, NC, abstract only (

This AAVSO Alert Notice was compiled by Elizabeth O. Waagen using material provided by Dr. Donald Collins and colleagues.


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