Sky and Telescope - September 2018 - 55

Deep-Sky Wonders by Sue French

An orange gem east-northeast of the
kite's bottom star lends a touch of
color to the group. I count 20 stars,
but they're so loosely scattered that
the cluster is easy to overlook. Its given
size and position vary a bit from source
to source. The data in our table spring
from the online version of the Catalog
of Optically Visible Open Clusters and
Candidates (https://wilton.unifei.edu.
br/ocdb/), which provides a distance
and age of about 2,600 light-years and
20 million years.
In the far southeastern corner
of Lacerta, h975 (HJ 975) is one of
thousands of double stars found by the
great English polymath John Herschel.
It's a very wide pair even at 23×, and
the components differ by 3.5 magnitudes. The bright primary glitters with
an icy blue-white hue, and its fetching
reddish-orange companion lies westsouthwest. Boosting the magnification
to 63×, the elliptical galaxy NGC 7426
appears in the field of view as a little
fuzzball only 3.8′ east of h975. At 117×
its oval face is cocked east-northeast
and grows slightly brighter toward the
center. The dim halo covers roughly
1′ × ¾′ at 164×, and the galaxy's heart
holds a small, brighter core. NGC 7426
is about 220 million light-years distant

Lacerta sive Stellio
This tiny celestial reptile is speckled
d with stars.
Ceres, offended at his foul grimace,
Flung what she had not drunk into his face,
The sprinklings speckle where they hit the skin,
And a long tail does from his body spin;
His arms are turn'd to legs, and lest his size
Shou'd make him mischievous, and he might rise
Against mankind, diminutives his frame,
Less than a lizzard, but in shape the same . . .
A name they gave him, which the spots exprest,
That rose like stars, and varied all his breast.
- Ovid, Metamorphoses

UR ANIA'S MIR R OR (1825) / LIBR A RY OF CONG RESS / PUBLIC DO M AIN

A

ffronted by the rudeness of a young
lad while she was desperately seeking her lost daughter, the goddess Ceres
turned the hapless boy into a lizard.
Perchance this star-speckled lizard
inspired Johannes Hevelius to raise the
little constellation Lacerta into our sky
when he introduced it in his wonderful
1687 atlas, Firmamentum Sobiescianum.
Placed just south of Cepheus, the new
constellation figure bore the Latin name
Lacerta sive Stellio, which means "Lizard
or Stellion." In early usage, a stellion
was a lizard with starlike spots. Stellion now refers to a particular species,
commonly called a star lizard, found in
lands cradling the Mediterranean Sea.
Since some of Lacerta's spots can
only be enjoyed with a telescope, let's
focus on a few that come to us in the
form of double stars.
Struve 2876 (Σ2876 or STF 2876)
beams at us from southern Lacerta, 48′
west of 1 Lacertae in the lizard's tail.
My 130-mm refractor at 37× gives a
pleasing separation, and the contrast
between the pale-yellow primary and its
golden companion to the east-northeast
shows nicely. Pushing the scope to the
opposite side of 1 Lacertae, Struve 2894
joins the view. It's a brighter and wider
duo, offering a creamy-white primary
teamed with a yellow attendant to its
south-southwest. Although some entries

in double star catalogs aren't physically
related, measurements indicate that
these are bound pairs.
Continuing our eastward trek for
3.5°, we'll bump into the little-known
star cluster Teutsch 39. It dangles 1.4°
south-southwest of 10 Lacertae and
embraces the 7th-magnitude star HD
214263. Through the 130-mm scope at
63×, this bright beacon marks the top of
a skewed kite soaring north-northwest.

Looking at the Lizard
Object
Σ2876
Σ2894
Teutsch 39
h975
NGC 7426
IC 1442
NGC 7245
NGC 7226
Be 98
NGC 7394
h1820

Type
Double star
Double star
Open cluster

Mag(v)
8.1, 9.8
6.2, 8.9
-

Size/Sep

RA

Dec.

11.8″

22h

12.0m

+37° 39′

16.1″

22h

18.9m

+37° 46′

17′

22h

36.5m

+37° 45′

22h

55.7m

+36° 21′

Double star

5.7, 9.2

52.1″

Galaxy

12.3

1.7′ × 1.4′

22h 56.0m

+36° 22′

Open cluster

9.1

5.0′

22h 16.0m

+53° 59′

5.0′

22h

15.3m

+54° 20′

2.0′

22h

10.4m

+55° 24′

6.0′

22h

42.7m

+52° 25′

22h

50.4m

+52° 09′

22h 50.5m

+52° 09′

Open cluster
Open cluster
Open cluster

9.2
9.6
-

Cluster?

-

10′

Double star

9.7, 13.4

11.0″

Angular sizes and separations are from recent catalogs. Visually, an object's size is often smaller than
the cataloged value and varies according to the aperture and magnification of the viewing instrument.
Right ascension and declination are for equinox 2000.0.

sk yandtelescope.com * S E P TE M B E R 2 018

55


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