Open Cluster in Cygnus

Many of the stars in this loose open cluster seem to form chains and loops.  When my son Tom was young, I showed him this cluster through the telescope, and he said it looked like a four-leaf clover.  I looked again and I could see the clover shape, with the stem stretching to the east (to the left in this picture) and four loops of stars forming the four leaves.  The appearance of open clusters can change quite a bit depending on the magnification used to view them, and photographs look different from what is seen visually.  The many background stars that are seen in this photograph (which may be dim or invisible when looking through a telescope) make the clover shape harder to discern.

Image details:  10 images, each 120 seconds at ISO 800, taken with a Canon 400D camera through a Meade 12” telescope at f/10.

September 2008