all the amateurs that I have been fortunate enough to know over the
years, one of the most endearing had to be Lucian Kemble. Father
member of the Order of Franciscan Monks, was a talented observer from Saskatchewan, Canada,
genuinely fine human being. I had the great pleasure of corresponding
"Lamplighter," as he was known to friends, many times prior to his
death in February 1999.
Above: Autumn star map from
by Phil Harrington.
Finder chart for this month's Binocular Universe.
adapted from Touring
Binoculars Atlas (TUBA)
Kemble had a passion for deep-sky observing through telescopes as well
binoculars. While he and I often wrote
about hunting for obscure galaxy groups, his most enduring astronomical
revolves around a curious asterism that he bumped into more than 25
while scanning the vague constellation Camelopardalis the Giraffe with
binoculars. Camelopardalis occupies the seemingly starless void between
and Ursa Minor.
Camelopardalis's dim outline makes locating Father Kemble's discovery
more challenging, it also helps it to stand out when you finally do.
binoculars about halfway between Capella and Polaris, and look for the
4th-magnitude stars Alpha and Beta Camelopardalis. While
there, take a quick side trip south of
Beta to a pretty binocular double star formed by 5th-magnitude 11 Camelopardalis and 6th-magnitude 12
Camelopardalis. The stars are
separated by 3 arc-minutes,
making them easy prey through most binoculars.
now scan approximately 6°, or about a full binocular field, to the
Alpha and Beta. Watch for a stream of faint stars shining between 7th
magnitudes flowing southeastward and accented by a lone 5th-magnitude
midway along. That's Kemble's Cascade,
a name bestowed on the grouping by famed deep-sky author Walter Scott
Houston. You’ll see it cross-listed
on the finder chart
above as Hrr 3, its shorthand
designation in my book Touring the Universe through Binoculars. In all, 20 stars set neatly in a row and
ranging from 5th to 10th magnitude form the cascade. Although the stars in this 2.5° string are
not physically related to each other in space, they seem to line up
military precision. The sketch here
shows my impression of the cascade through 10x50 binoculars, while
Astronomy Picture of the Day web site has a beautiful photo
of it in
their archives from January 28, 2010.
you ride the rapids southeastward along the cascade, you should spot a
next to the last star in line. That's the open cluster NGC
1502. Father Kemble
likened the combined view to a waterfall pouring into a pool, which is
analogy. The 45 stars that call NGC 1502
home collectively shine at 6th magnitude. My
10x50 binoculars only resolve a few
individual points, however; the rest combine into a triangular glow.
Cascade flows diagonally across this sketch made by the author through
binoculars. Open cluster NGC 1502 lies
at the southeastern end of the cascade.
another binocular field southwestward to the 5th-magnitude star Struve
tight telescopic binary star often shown representing the Giraffe's
Struve 385 makes a handy marker for our next binocular target, open
cluster Stock 23. Several
observing guides refer to this as Pazmino's Cluster
after New York amateur
John Pazmino, who accidentally stumbled upon it while observing with a
refractor in the late 1970s. Back then,
very few observers had ever seen, or even heard of, Stock 23, since it
surprisingly missed in the Messier and NGC listings. Through
binoculars, however, it stands out
nicely. Of its 25 stars, half a dozen
shine between 7th and 9th magnitudes and are visible in 50-mm glasses
skies. The four brightest form a
trapezoid that reminds me of a tiny version of Draco the dragon's head.
final target is Collinder 464,
another little known open cluster. You'll
find it about 8.5° northeast of Alpha Cam. Although
the 50 suns that form Collinder 464
are difficult to distinguish from the surroundings, I've always been
by a 1° by 2° pattern of ten stars that include some from the
cluster as well
as a few to its north. Being a dog
lover, I always see the stars as forming the profile of a toy poodle. In fact, I've christened this
mini-constellation Amy after my own
toy poodle. To my eyes, Amy is facing
west with her legs extending to the south and her tail standing at
the east. The stars that mark the tip of
her nose, ear, and tail look very slightly orangish, while the rest
more to see in this month’s Binocular Universe.
Here are few more binocular targets in this corner of tonight's
we meet again in 2013, remember that for stargazing on late autumn
and early winter nights, two eyes are better than one.
About the Author:
Harrington has written 9 books on astronomy, including Star Ware,
Watch, and his latest, Cosmic Challenge. Visit his
web site, www.philharrington.net,
copyright 2012 by Philip S. Harrington. All
rights reserved. No
reproduction, in whole or in part, beyond single copies for use by an
individual, is permitted without written permission of the copyright