FUZZY SPOT, September 1997, Lacerta

This month’s column covers the small and indistinct constellation Lacerta, the lizard.  It appears in the fall Milky Way between Cygnus and Cepheus.  The lizard’s head contains several open clusters, three of which are Herschel-400 objects, while the tail hangs out of the Milky Way and contains several faint galaxies.  I’m also stealing some open clusters from Cygnus, which are nearby, to round out the column.

About a year and a half ago, I started noticing that when I went out observing, I would usually end up with one very special observation that I called the “WOW” observation of the night.  When I looked over my notes, I would think “what about these other observations, how did they compare to the WOW object.”  So I decided to start rating all of my observation on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the best), which become known as a WOW rating.  There is absolutely no objective reasoning for the rating given, but simply how that observation affected or inspired me.  It may be the star pattern surrounding the object, something special about the object itself, or perhaps something that I just can’t describe (For example, I gave the 4-star pattern of M-73 a 9, I just like it).  The other thing I like about giving observations a WOW rating is that it makes the observation and object more personal.

So here are the objects for the month along with my WOW ratings:

        NGC 7209 (22h05.2 +46 30)  I saw this cluster as very large, very bright, not compressed, and somewhat rich.  This cluster has some of the nicest strings of stars that I can recall seeing in any cluster.  Specifically on the E side is a string that roams all over the place, kind of resembles a mini Eridanus.  There are 3 bright stars on the outskirts that are probably not members of the cluster.  I counted about 75 stars in 4 levels, with many more right at the threshold of seeing.  The cluster is very obvious in my 9x40 finderscope.  This is a very nice cluster, I really liked the long string.  I rated this one a 9.

        NGC 7243 (2h15.3 +49 53)  This cluster is very bright, very large (about 1/2 field of view at 70x), and not very condensed.  I counted 65 stars, although it is very hard to tell where the cluster ends since the Milky Way is so rich here.  The cluster is split into 3 groups of stars with dark spaces in the middle.  This one is also obvious in the finder.  I like this cluster with the dark spots, a nice double star, I gave this one a 7.

        NGC 7296 (22h28.2 +52 17)  The third of the Herschel clusters in Lacerta is a small tight group of stars, somewhat small, not too bright, poor, and somewhat condensed.  I counted 9 stars with possible haze, these stars were in two levels plus 1 bright star.  As the other clusters in Lacerta, this one sits in a rich Milky Way field.  This one is definitely the least impressive of the three, I gave it a 4 for the WOW rating.

        Nearby in Cygnus are a few objects I am including here.

        NGC 7086 (21h30.5 +51 35)  I saw this cluster as not very bright, not very big, poor, and pretty condensed.  10 stars were counted in 3 levels over a granular haze.  Although I had a short description, it must have impressed me somewhat as I rated it a 6.

        NGC 7127 (21h43.9 +54 37)  This cluster (which is not a Herschel or best NGC object) is pretty small, pretty faint, pretty loose, and pretty poor.  The cluster contains 3 levels of stars, with 10 stars counted including a bright star in the middle and 4 surrounding it forming an X.  A bright star is noted to the WSW.  This cluster is the poorest in this column, I gave it only a 3.

        NGC 7128 (21h44.0 +53 43)  I noted this open cluster as pretty small, pretty faint, condensed, and poor.  There are 3 levels of stars with 9 stars counted in a circlet with a possible background haze.  Three of the stars in the circlet are doubles.  I thought this cluster had a nice shape, but not much else, so I rated it a 4.

Herschell 400 Objects
7209, 7243, 7296
SAC’s 110 Best of the NGC Objects
7209, 7243