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Dan Lessmann

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Caldwell 14, The Double Cluster

 

Click image for larger version.

 

In early winter take a nighttime trip to the country and look to the northern sky.  You'll find the big dipper is sitting on the northern horizon and way up overhead is the constellation Cassiopeia looking like a big W above Polaris, the North Star.  Follow the eastern inner leg of the W back to the south just a bit and you may see a smudge of light between the W and the top of Perseus.  It takes a dark sky to see it with the naked eye but that smudge is the Double Cluster; two open clusters of stars, NGC 884 and NGC 869 or known together as C14 in Caldwell's catalog.

 

NGC 884, the cluster to the left in this image, is about 7,600 light years distant while 889 is a bit closer at 6,800 light years distance.  Both clusters are comparatively young at between 3 and 5 million years old and each have over 300 blue super giant stars among their members.

 

As with most open clusters, the Double Cluster does not disappoint when viewed through a telescope.  I like a relatively fast Newtonian of 10" aperture or more along with a long, wide angle eyepiece so both clusters fit within the field of view.  If anything, the clusters are even more stunning then they are photographically because the background stars visible in photographs such as this tend to fade out somewhat.  Stay at the eyepiece for a bit and you'll most likely begin to see the star colors begin to pop out especially in larger telescopes.

 

Date:  11/2012 Over Two Nights

Location:  4Domes Observatory

Telescope:  TMB130SS @ f/5.25

Mount:  AP-1200

Camera:  SBIG STL-6303E

Acquisition and Guiding:  CCD Autopilot controlling Maxim DL

LRGB Combine Exposures:

Luminance - 20 x 300, Bin 1x1, 1.7 hr

Red - 5x600 Seconds, Bin 1x1

Green - 5x600 Seconds, Bin 1x1

Blue - 5x600 Seconds, Bin 1x1

Post Processing:

ImagesPlus:  Calibration, align and combine, digital development

Photoshop CS4:  Luminance, color combine, levels, curves, LAB color adjustment, sharpening

Last Updated: 11/12/2014  -  Copyright 2004-2013 by Dan Lessmann.  All rights reserved.  Please click here for my usage policy.