NGC 457 – Open Cluster

NGC 457 discovered by William Herschel in 1787 is an open cluster of stars in the constellation Cassiopeia which has many names; Owl Cluster, ET Cluster, Caldwell 13, Kachina Doll Cluster, Skiing Cluster, and I also call it Johnny Number 5. This open cluster is around 7,900 light-years away from the Sun, and has an estimated age of 21 million years which is relatively young astronomically speaking. The two bright stars in this cluster form the eyes of all the objects people have named it after. One “eye” is a magnitude 5, and the other “eye” is a magnitude 7 making it a little dimmer.

‘X’ marks the spot of NGC 457

My Observation: I have previously posted a sketch of this cluster back in September of 2011 while using my Astromaster 114EQ telescope. Looking back on the sketch as I write this I definitely need to do a new sketch of NGC 457 and do a comparison between a 4.5″ and a 6″ telescope. I did notice quite a few more stars in the cluster this time around while viewing it, and I also noticed that the star I said had a slight orange color was quite prominent in the new scope, and when I do the sketch I will edit it to show the colors. Viewed and imaged this time around from the same location as the previous view. It also appears that in the image I captured NGC 436 which is at magnitude 8.8 compared to NGC 457′s 6.4 magnitude.

NGC 457 07-28-12

This image is 18 images at 60 seconds a piece and 30 dark frames, ISO 800.

Equipment: Omni XLT 150, CG-4 mount with RA and DEC motor drives, Canon 350D, Intervalometer.

September 17, 2011 Viewing Session – NGC 457

The moon was a Waning Gibbous at 80% Jupiter was very bright and to the right of the moon. Moonlight was washing out a lot of deep sky objects. I was having a lot of trouble finding some of the nebula and dimmer clusters. I spent most of the night scanning the sky in Cepheus with no luck finding a few of the objects I was aiming for. Could have overlooked them or they could have been washed out, I’m not completely sure.

After Cepheus I turned my telescope to Cassiopeia to see if I could find some of the clusters over that way. I started towards the star Ruchbah the star in the middle of Cassiopeia. I started moving the scope around when all of a sudden I came across a small grouping of stars that appeared to form the shape of some sort of living being whether it’s alien, human, or some other type of creature. At first I could make out a bright set of eyes, two feet, two arms, and as I was looking around at these objects I started making out some fainter stars forming a body. This open cluster of stars totally looked like an alien to me. I had no idea what I was looking at so I decided to run into the house and open up Stellarium and look for any cluster that may form a shape like what I was seeing. I came across the open cluster NGC 457 and realized this was the object in my eyepiece. After clicking on the wiki link to this cluster it’s then that I realized I’m not the only one who saw this <span title=”Pareidolia is a psychological phenomenon involving a vague and random stimulus being perceived as significant.Common examples are seeing faces or shapes in objects such as seeing shapes in clouds.”>pareidolia</span> because it’s also known as the ET Cluster, or the Owl Cluster. NGC 457 was discovered by Friedrich Wilhelm Herschel in 1787 and is 7,900 light-years away from out sun.

This sketch below is how it looked to me with the sky conditions, light pollution, and the eyepieces I was using.With the 32mm eyepiece the main grouping of stars was about 17 stars forming “ET” and then a few others away from this shape that I don’t believe are part of the actual cluster itself. When I switched over to the 12.5mm it revealed about 25 stars in the “ET” cluster and could really see the body a bit better. When viewing the right star making up the eye was brighter than the left, and it appeared the left star had a subtle orange color. The eyes seemed to be the brightest stars with the feet being second in brightness.

The thumbnail view is a good representation of this image in the eyepiece.
NGC 457 Click to Enlarge

I have decided to do a lot of sketches for a couple of reasons. If you are curious about what scope to get or curious what you can see with your 114mm (4.5inch) telescope and eyepieces then this should serve well as an idea of what you’re going to see. I plan on doing more sketches when time allows, I’m not giving up on photography, but the sketches really show you how it looks through the scope, and images with a camera add color which I have yet to see with my own eyes at the scope (unless looking at a planet or some stars which are blue or red/orange).