Double Cluster and Greg's Charm Bracelet
November 21, 2012
If you view the Double Cluster region, in the constellation of Cassiopeia, through a pair of binoculars or a low-power telescope, what strikes you is a remarkable bright ring of stars that seem to emanate from the cluster itself. It looks like a celestial Charm Bracelet with the Double Cluster attached as a sparkling charm. What's even more odd is that if you look at planetarium programs or even other deep-sky images of the region, the "bracelet" isn't all that outstanding, so it must be some sort of contrast enhancement of the human visual system that's at work here. This processed view gets closer to the visual experience, but it's still pretty unimpressive compared to the actual live view. So the next time you have a clear moonless night and Cassiopeia is overhead, grab a pair of binoculars and take a look at Greg's Charm Bracelet - it really is an amazing sight. The Double Cluster is technically in the constellation of Perseus. But to look for it, observe just off to the left and below the second star in the "W" of Cassiopeia. Greg Parker designed an amateur deep-sky imaging system he dubbed the mini-WASP (Wide Angle Search for Planets) imaging array. It was named after the SuperWASP array.
Photo details: Taken using the mini-WASP array at the New Forest Observatory; around four hours of total integration time using four-minute subs. The two datasets were assembled and processed by Noel Carboni. I did a little extra post-processing to try to mimic the view seen through binoculars.