By Dave Fuller on 8/18/2014 7:26 AM
IC 4756: A huge, star-rich object

It's always interesting researching objects that are not Messiers or well-known NGC objects. Particularly with IC objects, the data available is, sadly, even harder to come by. But we need not know the nitty gritty details (IC 4756 has 6 blue stragglers!) to find and appreciate these clusters. No, what we need most often is simply knowing they exist, that they are easily seen, and worth finding/observing.

Star hop to IC4756 in OphiuchusI often find NGC objects that appear "bright" on Stellarium or on other lists that indicate a bright overall combined magnitude, but then when I see the size of the object, I have to roll my eyes sometimes. "A cluster just 10 arc seconds across? That's like looking at MARS!" (which, if you don't already know, looks incredibly tiny at the eyepiece). So when I saw an object that lists an angular diameter of 52 arc minutes (almost twice is large as the Moon) AND an integrated magnitude of 5.00, I knew I had to investigate further. 

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By Dave Fuller on 12/29/2013 4:32 PM
Messier 35 in wide field eyepiece Have you ever looked closely at granular sugar? Not the fine powdered kind, but the type one might stir into iced tea or use to bake a cake. Though the grains may appear remarkably similar in size, when viewed more closely it is possible to see some are smaller, and some are larger. And if a pinch of that sugar - enough to barely sweeten a glass of unsweetened iced tea - were slowly rubbed through fingers to land on a black piece of velvety cloth, what would that look like?

Probably a lot like Messier 35.

This cluster is large - nearly as large as the Pleiades, though not quite as bright. And though the nearby cluster M37 in Auriga often gets the "Salt and Pepper Cluster" designation, I think Messier 35 deserves the "Table Sugar Cluster" designation - but that's just me, perhaps. 

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By Dave Fuller on 12/22/2013 2:37 PM

NGC 1981 with stars highlightedIf one was looking with a telescope in an star-poor, somewhat sparse region of the galaxy, NGC1981 would be a fantastic sight upon which to stumble. Let's start with where to find this cluster. Look in Orion at the "sword region" of stars and nebulosity. 

The Nightlight

This blog includes what to see in the night and daytime skies, thoughts on telescopes, binoculars, and other astronomy observing accessories and equipment, plus my own occasional notes on objects I've seen and observed. Oh, and the random theater or other "my take on life" post. In other words, there is always something interesting. Check it out.