Edward Pigott, together with John Goodricke became one of the fathers’ of variable star astronomy when they worked together in York 1781-86. Following the death of Goodricke in 1786 Pigott moved to the city of Bath where he continued to observe the sky. In 1795 he discovered another variable star which today is known as R Scuti and the summertime is a good time to look for it.
Close to Messier 11, the wild duck cluster which is in the small constellation of Scutum the Shield lies a very interesting variable star, R Scuti. At its brightest it can rise to magnitude 4.4 and be visible to the naked eye, but can drop to magnitude 8.6 when binoculars are needed to find it.
It belongs to the rare type of RV Tauri type variables which are yellow supergiant stars of immense size but of low mass and density. These stars pulsate and R Scuti varies and becomes bright over a period of about every 140 days.
It’s always good fun to replicate those early observations Goodricke and Pigott and by doing so it can help to learn your way around the sky using the naked eye or just simple binoculars.