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What's Up Camelopardalis

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by Steve Coe

Camelopardalis is the constellation of a giraffe. It's head is near Polaris and its feet are close to Perseus and Auriga. Sorry, I have never been able to see that star picture in the sky. But, that is not necessary to see that it contains several very nice deep sky goodies that are worth observing. In all honesty, that is what is important to me.

Here is the list of objects in this month's article, enjoy some Winter deep sky observing.

Object Type RA Dec Mag Size
|Stock 23 |OPNCL|03 16.2|+60 06| | 15 m|
|IC 342 |GALXY|03 46.8|+68 06|12 | 20.9 m|
|Kemble 1 |ASTER|03 57.5|+63 04| 5 | 180 m|
|NGC 1501 |PLNNB|04 07.0|+60 55|12 | 56 s|
|NGC 1502 |OPNCL|04 07.8|+62 20| 6.9| 8 m|
|B 8 |DRKNB|04 19.0|+55 03| | 150 m|
|NGC 2403 |GALXY|07 36.8|+65 36| 8.5| 23.4 m|
|NGC 2404 |GX+DN|07 37.1|+65 37| | |
|NGC 2655 |GALXY|08 55.6|+78 13|10.1| 4.9 m|

Stock 23 is a rather nice open cluster. Even in the 11X80 finder scope it is pretty bright, pretty large and easily seen. At 100X in a Nexstar 11 this cluster is 17 stars scattered within a 10 arc minute area.

IC 342 has a overall magnitude that is deceiving, given as 12th magnitude in the table above, it has a low surface brightness of 14.9 and therefore is not a bright object. From the dark skies of the Arizona Sky Village near Portal, Arizona; it is very faint, pretty small, just barely there at all in 15X70 binoculars. The 100mm (4") RFT refractor shows it as faint, pretty large, very, very little brighter middle and elongated 1.5X1. Averted vision helps a lot on this object. There are several faint stars superimposed, so it looks like a poor star cluster with several members resolved across a faint background, but, it is the galaxy that provides that faint background glow.

[Many calculated surface brightness magnitudes are included in the SAC database. You can download it for free at www.saguaroastro.org ]

IC 342 image from Chris Schur with a 12.5 inch Newtonian.

Kemble's Cascade is a modern asterism discovered by the late Father Lucien Kemble. In 1991 he visited Arizona and I had an opportunity to spend two night observing the skies with him, Bob Kepple and Glen Sanner. It was a memorable and fun weekend far from the city lights. Actually, far from the Solar System. This asterism is a line of 32 stars in an unbroken chain from NW to SE, including the cluster NGC 1502. In the 4" and a 40mm eyepiece it takes it almost all in one field of view. The 32 stars were counted and very little color is seen with this small aperture, the members are white or very light yellow. It is a beautiful river of stars. In the 8X42 binoculars there are 19 stars seen in this chain and it takes up about 70% of the FOV.

My photo of Kemble's Cascade with a 200mm lens and Fuji 800 film for 10 minutes.

NGC 1501 is a very nice planetary nebula. It is faint with a 6 inch scope and averted vision helped to pick it out with a 14mm eyepiece. Moving up to a 13 inch Newtonian at 150X, it is immediately obvious. I saw it as pretty bright and pretty large. It appears as a round light blue disk. The central star comes and goes with the seeing. Raising the power to 220X provides a nice view. The central star is held steady and the nebula is quite mottled. Going up to 440X shows the disk as a little elongated (1.2X1) in PA 90; it is also brighter on the north side of the annulus. I find that my UHC filter actually dims this object.

NGC 1502 is an open cluster that I see as bright, large, and pretty rich at 100X in the Nexstar 11. There are 27 stars counted in the cluster with several bright pairs and a nice blue and gold double on the northeast side. This somewhat scattered open cluster is easy in the 11X80 finder. While you are in the area, the prominent red carbon star UV Cam is about half a degree to the south of this cluster. Even from my backyard in light polluted Phoenix it is a nice dark orange color.

Barnard 8 is a large dark nebula. In the 4" RFT refractor with a 35mm Panoptic eyepiece, this dark area just fits in the big eyepiece and the small scope. It is an oval dark shape that is elongated 1 degree X 3 degrees. It has pretty good contrast. Going to the 22mm Panoptic shows better contrast and sweeping across the dark area shows lots of stars in one field of view and then a very dark background with only 4 or 5 stars in front of the dark cloud. I find this kind of sweeping lots of fun, just taking in the celestial scenery.

NGC 2403 is a very nice galaxy, it is bright enough to see with the big finderscope. In the 13 inch at 135X it is bright, large and elongated 1.5X1 in PA 135 degrees. There are several stars involved with faint spiral structure in the outer sections of this lovely galaxy. The middle is gradually much brighter. From the darkest sites, the spiral arms of this galaxy shimmer and sparkle with mottling.

This image of 2403 is from the NGC/IC Project site, it includes 2404, a bright star cluster and nebula in a spiral arm.

NGC 2655 is another bright galaxy. At 135X it is bright, pretty large and little elongated. This galaxy is much brighter in the middle with a bright central nucleus at 220X. Averted vision shows off lots of detail within this nice, but not spectacular, galaxy.


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