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In 1970, Anton Labeyrie, a French astronomer, beat the seeing limit by taking hundreds of very short-exposure images of close binary stars with a high-speed film camera and processing these images in Fourier space. By circumventing the seeing limit, speckle interferometry made it possible to observe visual binaries with small separations. By the early 1980s, Harold McAlister, William Hartkopf, and their associates were making speckle interferometry observations of very close binaries on the 2.1- and 4.0-meter telescopes at Kitt Peak National Observatory with an intensified CCD camera connected to an Osborne portable computer. Long the province of professional astronomers on larger telescopes, Florent Losse, a French amateur astronomer, pioneered binary star speckle interferometry for smaller telescopes. Over the past three years, speckle observations of close visual binaries have been made by an eclectic group of student, amateur, and professional astronomers with a portable EMCCD-based speckle interferometry camera on two smaller telescopes and then on the 0.8- and 2.1-meter telescopes at Kitt Peak National Observatory. This group is also pursuing two advanced technologies: full automation to increase the quantity of observations in an economical manner, and masks adapted from exoplanet imaging to disperse the bright primary starlight away from “discovery zones” so that faint secondary stars can be detected.

Speckle Interferometry of Close Visual Doubles

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