The fine structure and the variations of the optical pulse shape and phase of the Crab pulsar are studied on various time scales. The observations have been carried out on 4-m William Hershel and 6-m BTA telescopes with APD photon counter, photomultiplier based 4-channel photometer and PSD based panoramic spectrophotopolarimeter with 1 μs time resolution in 1994, 1999, 2003 and 2005–2006 years. The upper limit on the pulsar precession on Dec 2, 1999 is placed in the 10 s–2 hr time range. The evidence of a varying from set to set fine structure of the main pulse is found in the 1999 and 2003 years data. No such fine structure is detected in the integral pulse shape of 1994, 1999 and 2003 years.
The drastic change of the pulse shape in the 2005–2006 years set is detected along with the pulse shape variability and quasi-periodic phase shifts.
Methods: data analysis Pulsars: general Objects: PSR B0531+21