Filar Micrometer

  • Bob Argyle
  • R. W. Argyle
Part of the Patrick Moore’s Practical Astronomy Series book series (PATRICKMOORE)


The measurement of double stars is central to the theme of this book and there are many ways of doing this, but this chapter is dedicated to the use of the filar micrometer which has been used seriously since the time of William Herschel. For a thorough discussion of the history and development of the filar micrometer see the paper by Brooks(1991). Much of our knowledge of longer period visual binaries depends on micrometric measures over the last 200 years. The filar micrometer is by far the most well-known device for measuring double stars. Its design remains largely the same as the original instrument which was first applied to an astronomical telescope by the Englishman William Gascoigne (ca. 1620–1644) in the late 1630s. The aim is to use fine threads located in the focal plane of the telescope lens or mirror to measure the relative position of the fainter component of a double star with respect to the brighter, regarding the latter as fixed for this purpose. This is done by the measurement of the angle which the line joining the two stars makes with the N reference in the eyepiece and the angular separation of the fainter star (B) from the brighter (A) in seconds of arc. These quantities are usually known as theta (\(\theta \)) and rho (\(\rho \)) respectively and are defined in  Chap. 1.


Position Angle Double Star Fixed Wire Micrometer Screw Astronomical Telescope 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Alzner A (2001). Accessed date on July 2012
  2. Brooks RC (1991) J Hist Astron 22:127ADSGoogle Scholar
  3. Greaney MP (1993) Webb Soc Quart J 94:22Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bob Argyle
  • R. W. Argyle
    • 1
  1. 1.WaterbeachUK

Personalised recommendations