Wednesday 7 August 2013

Kemble's Cascade and the Mystery Cluster

I had another fine night's observing last night; a dull day had given way to clear skies, and a chance to do some astronomy outreach work using the Interrnational Space Station - at the pub.

At home, I quickly had the 10x50s and enjoyed the sights of the mixed summer / autumn skies  - beautiful endless stars along the milky way, cygnus full of endless knots and unidentified clusters of stellar bodies. Messier 71 in Sagitta was easily seen, and then Messier 27, the dumbell nebula and the easiest planetary nebula in the sky to see.

The night's main target was Kemble's Cascade, sat lowish in the great blank patch of sky that marks the constelation of Camelopardalis. Ironically Alpha is one of the more distant and thus luminous naked eye stars visible from earth, being 6000 light years from earth, but you wouldn't think so looking at this undistinguished patch of sky.

Luckily I'm able to pick out the Cascade more or less automatically now. I looked at it totally afresh last night, leading to extra discovery about it.

I hope.

The bright northern part of the cascade is what I tend to have been identifying as the whole asterism. After last night, I think I was wrong - at this time of year that bright part extends east for a couple of lunar diameters or so, then curves to the south out of the field of view . Trouble is, I think, is that these stars are fainter, and the Cascade tends to look a bit like it has gaps in it. The NGC1502 cluster was not apparent, but again this cluster to the south-west is very prominent.

I can't find anything on star maps of the area, but if this cluster is NGC1502, I'm looking at the Cascade in entirely the wrong way.

Perhaps the readers will see this formation better!

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