FUZZY SPOT,  August 2003, Vulpecula

This year will mark 7 full years of the Fuzzy Spot column.  After a lot of thought, I've decided to call it quits at the end of this year, for a couple of reason.  One, as I've picked up other hobbies and activities, I haven't been able to dedicate the proper time needed to do new observations and write about them.  Two, I mostly observe with the 20" scope now, but I want the column to reflect what a majority of the amateur astronomers would observe.  As it stands now, AJ Crayon will be writing a new deep sky column for the SAC news.    Based on what he has told me, his column will be quite different from mine and should be a very nice change.  More about his column will be coming up in future newsletters.

There's still 5 months left in this year, and this month, I will be covering Vulpecula, one of the faint constellations between Cygnus and Aquila (the other being Sagitta).  Being in the summer Milky Way, it contains many open clusters as well as some nebulosity, including the wonderful Dumbbell nebula.  Also, for binoculars, don't forget to look at the coathanger asterism, one of the best chance alignments of stars in the sky.  All of the objects covered here are open clusters, and will have observations from both the 10" scope and the 20" scope.  One of the surprises I had with the 20" scope is how it improves many open clusters.

        NGC 6800 (19 27.2 +25 08)  I like to call this open cluster the Motorola cluster (people involved in electronics/computers in the 70's and 80's will know why).  This is one cluster where increasing the aperture from 10" to 20" didn't make any difference.  In the 10" scope at 70X, it is a little bright, pretty big, slightly rich, pretty loose, and somewhat elongated E/W 1.5:1.  I saw 3 levels of stars and some possible haze in the background, with a star count of 58.  There is a pretty big circlet of stars in the middle and 2 fairly bright stars on the E end.  The bulk of the concentration is on the N side of the circlet.  In the 20" scope at 80X, it is pretty bright, very large, somewhat poor, pretty loose, and not very well detached from the Milky Way.  The stars are very well resolved with 3 levels of stars and a count of 47 stars.  There are 2 nearby stars that are probably not part of the cluster.  The shape is basically round with a of void in the middle.

        NGC 6802 (19 30.6 +20 16) This open cluster sits at the end of the coathanger asterism.  In the 10" scope at 70X, it is not at all resolved.  Kicking the power up to 140X resolves perhaps 8 stars over a granular haze which is elongated N/S.  There are nice double stars on either side of the cluster.   In the 20" scope at 150X, it is somewhat bright, pretty large, pretty rich, very condensed, and very elongated N/S.  On the NW side is a bright double star and on the NE is another double star, slightly fainter.  I was able to resolve about 37 stars over some haze in 3 levels of stars counting the haze as 1 level.

        NGC 6823/6820 (19 43.1 +23 18) This is an open cluster with some nebulosity.  In the 10" scope at 70X, the cluster is pretty bright, somewhat small, poor, and fairly condensed. I saw 3 levels of stars with a count of 25 stars in central area and another 20 or so stars surrounding it.  There is a real nice grouping of 4 stars in the middle. Using the UHC filter, there is a definite but subtle glow around the cluster which is 6820.  In the 20" scope at 80X, the cluster is somewhat small, somewhat bright, pretty condensed, and somewhat poor. I saw 3 levels of stars with about 30 obvious stars counted, the count could double depending on how far out you go.  There is a nice grouping of 4 stars in the middle.  There is supposed to be some nebulosity, but I was unable to see it for certain, at best I suspected it.

        NGC 6830 (19 51.0 +23 04)  The last open cluster was seen in the 10" scope at 100X as somewhat bright, somewhat large, pretty poor, and fairly loose.  I saw 4 levels of stars with 14 stars counted.  The brighter stars form sort of an arrow shape and there is a triangle of stars in the middle.  The Milky Way is rich enough around it that the edge is hard to tell, perhaps another 20 stars could be included in the cluster.  In the 20" scope at 60X, it is very large, somewhat bright, rich, slightly condensed, and not detached.  I saw 3 levels of stars, all resolved, with a count of 50 stars.  The group to the E is the most prominent.  There is a bright star to the S.

Herschel 400 Objects
6802, 6823, 6830, 6882, 6885, 6940
SAC’s 110 Best of the NGC Objects