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A Method of Determining the Period of Short-Period Variable Stars

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Donna J. Henry

Maria Mitchell Observatory, Nantucket, Massachusetts




The determination of the period of a short-period variable star is, mathematically, a simple procedure. In practice, however, the analysis of one star may require weeks or even months of effort. The main difficulties arise from a lack of data and from a periodicity which is often inherent in the observations themselves. This paper outlines the method used at the Maria Mitchell Observatory for determining periods from photographic observations. To give the reader an understanding of the practical problems encountered, each step is illustrated with data on Variable 13,* an RR Lyrae star in Coma Berenices discovered by Dr. Dorrit Hoffleit in 1969.


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