December 5-12, 2008: Kemble’s Cascade, open cluster M36, and barred spiral galaxy NGC 925

Posted by Michael Bakich
on Thursday, December 04, 2008

CamelopardalisHere is the transcript for my podcast about how to see Kemble's Cascade, open cluster M36, and barred spiral galaxy NGC 925.

Check out the's interactive star chart to see an accurate map of your sky. It'll help you locate some of this week's key targets. Astronomy magazine subscribers have access to a slew of cool functions with StarDome PLUS.

--Start transcript--

Each week, I highlight three different night-sky targets for you to see:

  • One object you can find with your naked eyes or through binoculars
  • One object to find with a small telescope
  • One deep-sky object to find with an 8-inch or larger telescope for you avid astronomers

A starry waterfall
This week’s first object is a chance alignment of stars first described by the late Franciscan amateur astronomer Father Lucian Kemble, who found it while scanning the sky through binoculars. Because Kemble identified it, amateur astronomers now call it Kemble’s Cascade, and it’s located in the constellation Camelopardalis.

A magnification of 15x works best for framing the chain. The Cascade is 15 stars that stretch 2.5°. Most of the stars range from 7th to 9th magnitude. The exception is the 5th-magnitude sparkler called SAO 12969 that sits in the center.

Want some extra value in your observing? At the southeast end of Kemble’s Cascade, and easily visible in the same field of view, sits the tight open cluster NGC 1502. You’ll need a telescope to see its individual stars, but you won’t miss its overall 6th-magnitude glow.

M36A nice Milky Way cluster
This week’s small telescope target is M36. I described M38 last week, and next week I’ll talk about the richest of Auriga’s Messier open clusters, the Salt-and-Pepper Cluster (M37).

M36 is the least spectacular of the trio, but, at magnitude 6.0, it still outshines 99 percent of the sky’s star clusters. Through a 4-inch telescope, you’ll see several dozen stars strewn across an area 10' wide.

No holds barred
This week’s deep-sky object is NGC 925, an attractive, nearly face-on spiral galaxy in the small constellation Triangulum. What makes NGC 925 special among spirals is the bar that projects from its core.

To find NGC 925, point your telescope 2° east of the magnitude 4 star Gamma (γ) Trianguli. Through a small scope, this galaxy’s figure appears indistinct, but an 8-inch or larger instrument reveals the spiral arms that fold back abruptly from a long bar. At high magnification, say, above 250x, you’ll spot NGC 925’s stellar nucleus.

--End transcript--

Previous episode: Planets Venus and Jupiter, open cluster M38, and spiral galaxy NGC 1365
Previous transcript

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