There is this one particular field of view with such a immense beauty that it alone deserves to be the single reason to buy a common pair of binoculars. It is the wide field encompassing the double cluster, NGC 869 and NGC 884 in Perseus. But not in the way that you see it with a telescope. The low power view of a pair of binoculars will allow you to follow a chain of stars that emerges from the double cluster and crosses the border of Cassiopeia to reach the large and mighty open cluster, Stock 2, a few degrees N of the double cluster. Count to that the faint glow of NGC 957 and you have one of the most attractive views of the heavens. The double cluster is one of the largest and brightest open clusters of our galaxy. Compared to NGC 869 and NGC 884, which are about 7.500 l-y away, Stock 2 is a poor cluster. Stock 2 is in fact a foreground object at a distance of 1000 l-y. It appears large, only because it is so nearby. NGC 957, at a distance of 3.300 l-y, is a small patch of light at one and a half degree E of the double cluster. This beautiful view is reserved for the binocular observer only.
Site : Bekkevoort, Belgium ( 51Â° N )
Date : December 29, 2008
Time : around 18.00UT
Binoculars : Bresser Spezial-Jagd 8x56
Filter : none
Mount : Trico Machine Sky Window
Seeing : 3/5
Transp. : 3/5
Sky brightness : 19.38 magnitudes per square arc second near zenith (SQM reading).
Sketch Orientation: N up, W right.
Digital sketch made with Corel Paint Shop Pro X2, based on a raw pencil sketch.
(Note: if the sketch does look too dark on your monitor, try to darken the room.)