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NGC 6885 (H.VIII.20) & NGC 6882 (H.VIII.22)

Poster: cildarith (see all of this user's photos)
Description: NGC 6885 (H.VIII.20) and NGC 6882 (H.VIII.22): Here is another object (or two) steeped in confusion and controversy, this time in Vulpecula. Slew your scope 5½° north from Theta Sagittae to reach NGC 6882 and/or 6885. At low magnifications this object is visible as a loose, irregular grouping of stars northwest of 6th magnitude 20 Vulpeculae. At medium-high magnifications (60x, 120x) this cluster is dominated by a W-shaped group of 10th-11th magnitude stars that looks remarkably like a miniature version of Cassiopeia; around this are scattered a few faint stars. Just about every modern atlas plots NGC 6885 as a small cluster centered about 20 Vulpeculae but I could not detect anything remotely resembling a star cluster in the vicinity. O'Meara gives an excellent discussion of the ambiguities associated with this region in Deep-Sky Companions: The Caldwell Objects (yes, this is Caldwell 37) which I will not go into here for the sake of our mental health. His conclusion is that NGC 6882 is likely a repeat observation of NGC 6885, and the "two" objects have been confused since the date of discovery by William Herschel on September 9 (NGC 6885) and September 10 (NGC 6882) 1784. It is apparently unclear if there is even a cluster here at all as opposed to a random grouping of stars in the rich Milky Way (O'Meara, 2002). This group lies at an estimated distance of 1,900 light years (Strong & Sinnott).

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