2013 09 – Double Cluster in Perseus (Caldwell 14)

Caldwell 14 (NGCs 869 and 884) is a wonderful galactic cluster within the Perseus Spiral Arm. Viewable with unaided eye as a faint fuzzy patch between the lower left portion of the “W” in Cassiopeia and the sword arm of Perseus, it becomes magnificent through a low-power, wide-angle eyepiece and has become a favorite object of mine to share during outreach events.

NGC 869 (Cr 24, Mel 13, OCL 350, Lund 73, H 6.33, h 207, GC 512)
02h 19m 03.8s, +57º 08′ 06″ (2000)
200+ stars, 29′, m5.3v, Tr Type I 3 r

NGC 869 is the denser western cluster of the pair sporting a pair of bright magnitude 6.5 and 6.6 stars at its center. Several fainter stars surround the mag 6.5 star with the most obvious chain of 5 stars forming a curve toward its eastern side. The addition of two 8- to 9-magnitude stars to the north and south of the pair creates a N-S chain of stars extending 22 arcminutes. At 7200 ly away, NGC 869 is the younger of the two clusters (est. 6 million years old) with blue giants and supergiants as the brightest stars.

NGC 884 (Cr 25, Mel 14, OCL 353, Lund 76, H 6.34, h 212, GC 521)
02h 22m 32.1s, +57º 08′ 39″ (2000)
115+ stars, 29′, m6.1v, Tr Type II 2 p

NGC 884 is estimated to be 7500 ly away and the older of the two clusters (14 million years old) with white and red supergiants as the brightest stars. The brightest members form a large triangle to the NW with two smaller one further NE and SE. The overall impression is a broad, looser star cluster than NGC 869.

double-cluster-resized
Eyepiece sketch took a total of 4 hours and 32 minutes to complete over two observing sessions. Rite in the Rain paper was use for its ability to hold integrity during humid conditions. Additional sketch media: super-fine black felt-tipped artist pen, #2 pencil, 0.5mm mechanical pencil, 6-inch circle template, blending stump to produce soft glow around brightest stars. Scanned and inverted in Photoshop. Stars were cleaned up (jagged edges removed if needed) and contrast added. Sketch was rotated so that north is up, west is to the right.

Unfinished 2007 sketch

Unfinished 2007 sketch with an ED80 refractor.

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~ by Erika Rix on November 6, 2013.

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