The Coathanger

Sunday, July 6, 2008
1:23 am - 1:39 am EDT
CAMERA: Canon EOS 300D Digital Rebel (unmodified)
15 minutes (3 x 5 minutes @ ISO 400)
North Fulton Cemetery (Wakeshma Township, Kalamazoo County, Michigan)
Tele Vue Pronto 70 mm refractor (with Focal Reducer/Field Flattener) piggybacked on 10" LX200.
Registered, aligned, stacked, and dark frame subtracted with Deep Sky Stacker.  Further processing done with Adobe Photoshop CS3 and Noise Ninja 2.
For some reason I always chuckle when I observe this collection of stars inside the Summer Triangle. Maybe it's nature's way of playing a joke on the stargazer's of Earth. The line of six stars with a southward hook of three more stars is most commonly known at the Coathanger. Also known at Brocchi's Cluster or Collinder 399, it's located between the constellations Vulpecula and Sagitta. You would think such a remarkable collection of stars MUST be related. That's where the joke comes into play. In 1998, Brian Skiff (Lowell Observatory) determined that the group is an apparent asterism rather than a true open cluster. Yes, the Coathanger is nothing more than a random collection of stars. Nature has been playing mind tricks on us all along.