A Few Foxy Clusters

by Tom Campbell


August 15, 2003

ObserverTom Campbell
LocationIola, Kansas (Long: 95°24'W Lat: 37°55'N)
EquipmentDiscovery DHQ 8" dobsonian
Eyepieces1.25" Plössls - 25mm (49x), 15mm (81x), 10mm (122x), 6mm (203x), 4mm (305x)
Time9:30pm - 11:30pm CDT (02:30-04:30 UT)
TransparencyClear (8/10)
SeeingStable (8/10)
WeatherTemperatures in the 90s. There was no breeze.

Observing Summary
VULPECULANGC-6802, NGC-6882, NGC-6885

The main purpose in setting up tonight was to try to take some digital images of Mars (see my website if you want to know how it turned out). While waiting for Mars to rise above the soup, however, I decided to look at some open clusters in Vulpecula (the Fox). But first, I wanted to revisit a few old royal friends.

NGC 7380CepheusOpen Cluster9:45pm CDT
CR 452RA: 22h 47m 00sDec: +58° 06'Mag: 7.2

This open cluster is somewhat large and bright. The best view was at 122x, although the cluster was easily detected at 49x. Direct vision revealed about 15 stars, but averted vision showed several more fainter members. Some of the brightest stars in the cluster reminded me of the Teapot asterism in Sagittarius.

NGC 6939CepheusOpen Cluster9:55pm CDT
CR 423RA: 20h 31m 32sDec: +60° 39'Mag: 7.8

The best view of this open cluster was at 203x. It was really rich and compact, although a bit faint. With direct vision, about a dozen stars were seen, but averted vision revealed many more. The cluster was oblong, and one side of it looked a bit like the number 3. This cluster was nice in my 8", but probably would have been impressive in a larger telescope.

M52CassiopeiaOpen Cluster10:05pm CDT
NGC 7654RA: 23h 24m 18sDec: +61° 35'Mag: 6.9

Since I was in the general vicinity, I had to make a stop to revisit this Messier showpiece. 203x revealed the cluster nicely, showing a couple dozen stars. One bright star in the cluster appeared yellow, but the rest were white. The cluster was compact, with several arcs and knots of stars jumbled together.

NGC 6882/5VulpeculaOpen Cluster10:35pm CDT
CR 417RA: 20h 12m 00sDec: +26° 29'Mag: 8.1

NGC 6882 was a large donut-shaped ring of stars. Perhaps 15-20 stars were visible. One star in the ring was much brighter than the other members. The best view was at 88x. NGC 6885 was superimposed on this cluster, and was centered around the bright star mentioned previously. It was impossible for me to tell with any certainty which stars belonged to which cluster.

NGC 6802VulpeculaOpen Cluster11:15pm CDT
CR 400RA: 19h 30m 36sDec: +20° 17'Mag: 8.8

This cluster was located right off of CR 399 (the Coathanger). It was small and compact, and its members were very faint. With direct vision, the cluster was barely detectable as a smudge; with averted vision and using 203x, 3 or 4 stars were visible in a tight knot.

By this time, Mars was over the housetops, as was the waxing gibbous Moon. I brought out my digital camera and began playing around with taking pictures of Mars. The low-altitude seeing made most of them come out blurry, but the best one was posted on my website. Before I went inside, the Pleiades were beckoning to me low in the eastern sky, so I snapped a quick picture of them as well.