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NGC 1502

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Yesterday at the Practical Astronomy Show I got into a discussion with visual observers about my use of NGC 1502 as my name on SGL.

So I thought an explanation would be fitting on here. It’s quite simple actually……

Many of you will have heard of Kemble’s Cascade (Kemble 1).  It’s a 2.5 degree long alignment of stars in Camelopardalis, a dim far northern constellation.  It’s an asterism brought into prominence by a Canadian monk called Lucien Kemble. Lucian wrote to Walter Scott Houston (Sky & Telescope magazine) about a “beautiful cascade of faint stars tumbling from the northwest down to the open cluster NGC 1502.  In 1980 Walter called the line of stars “Kemble’s Cascade” and the name stuck.

NGC 1502 is a tiny true open cluster. Within the cluster is double star Struve 485.

So- three objects in one, an asterism, open cluster plus double star.

It’s circumpolar from northern latitudes therefore available all year, but best viewed in winter.

Kemble’s Cascade is a nice binocular or low power wide field scope object. NGC 1502/Struve 485 best viewed at higher power.




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Nice story Ed, it’s a lovely object.

Coincidentally I posted a link to a thread of mine on my TV Genesis, and it had a somewhat flakey smartphone image of Kemble’s Cascade in it. Don’t look too closely but it shows the overall object nicely. The Genesis is perfect for this type of object 👍


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Thanks Stu.  Your image shows NGC 1502 at the lower end of the Cascade. For those not familiar with this, take a look at the lower end of the Cascade in Stu’s image, where it divides into an upside down Y shape. Next to the shorter part of the Y you can see tiny NGC 1502, with Struve 485 as an elongated star.

Higher power brings out this open cluster and the double star nicely. You don’t need a large aperture to do this, even from town. My 70mm Pronto gets the job done. Genesis would do it better😊

For new folk. Don’t believe those who say you can’t do enjoyable astronomy from town, because you most definitely can!!


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Is usually the first object I hunt for in the night sky at the start of an observing session. If I can find the "cascade", then usually the sky quality / my eyesight is good enought to have an enjoyable evening.


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