FUZZY SPOT,  October 2002, Cepheus

Cepheus is a large circumpolar constellation.  The bright stars form what to me look like a stick figure of a house, with the pointed roof roughly facing Polaris.  In reality, the figure is supposed to represent the king of Ethiopia, with Cassiopeia as his wife and Andromeda being their daughter.  An interesting item is that due to procession in the earth's tilt, in about 2000 years Gamma Cephei (the "roof" of the house) will be the pole star, and in about 5500 years Alpha Cephei will become the pole star.

Cepheus sits partially in the Milky Way.  Therefore, the constellation is rich in open clusters, and a few nebulae.  Since the roof pokes above the stream of the Milky Way, there are some galaxies too.  One of the oldest open clusters, NCG 188 sits in the far northern part of the constellation which means it can be observed easily any time of the year.  All observations were made in my 10" F4.5 scope unless otherwise noted.

        NGC 40 (00 13.0 +72 32)  This planetary nebula is not too big, contains a very bright central star but the nebula itself is not real bright.  Using a UHC filter brings out the nebulosity, and using averted vision makes it more pronounced.  In the 10" scope, I could see no annularity or color, where as in the 20" scope, I could see some annularity and mottling.

        NGC 188 (00 44.4 +85 20)  As mentioned above, this open cluster is one of the oldest clusters in the skies, and is also the most northern one.  In the 10" scope, it is not real bright, but fairly condensed.  There are 3 layers of stars with about 40 stars counted over a granular haze.  In the 20" scope, it is very large, pretty faint, somewhat rich, and pretty condensed.  There are about 4 levels of stars dominated by a bright star on the W, with about 125 stars counted using direct vision.  A string of 13 bright stars was seen on the N side, but may not be part of the cluster.

        NGC 6939 (20 31.4 +60 38)  This open cluster is just NW of galaxy NGC 6946 on the Cygnus/Cepheus border (see last month's column).  It is not too bright and pretty big.  The brightest stars form a “V” shape, and there is a string of 5 stars on SW side.  I counted about 20 stars over a lot of granular haze many of which pop out when using averted vision for a total of 50 or so.

        NGC 7142 (21 45.9 +65 48)  This open cluster is fairly large, not very bright with 2 levels of stars over a background haze.  Using averted vision resolves the haze a little.  I counted 35 stars using direct vision. There are  2 bright stars to W and a bright star to N.

        NGC 7160 (21 53.7 +62 36)  This open cluster is very bright, pretty small, and not at all rich.  There is a bright double star, which is white and blue/white, with about 15-20 stars around the double in 3 layers.  A bright star is to W.  To the N of the cluster is a fairly big, somewhat bright, not very rich knot of about 13 stars in 2 levels.  I have been unable to identify this grouping in any of my sources, so (at least for now) I have dubbed it as Reeves-1.

        NGC 7380 (22 47.0 +58 06)  This open cluster is pretty bright, pretty big, and kind of triangular in shape.  I counted 25 stars, using averted vision makes more pop out.  It sits in a nice field of stars.  On the SW end is a bright star with a faint companion, a nice double star off of same point of triangle, and another bright star some distance out from double.

        NGC 7510 (23 11.5 +60 34)  The last open cluster of the month is pretty bright, not too big, somewhat rich, an triangular in shape.  There are 3 levels of stars, with 14 stars counted. There is a bright star on ENE end with 2 trails of stars lead away from bright star to the SW.

Herschel 400 Objects
40, 6939, 7142, 7160, 7380, 7510
SAC’s 110 Best of the NGC Objects
40, 6939, 7129