With a Brief History of the Naming of the Constellations

"....leapin' LIZARDS!" ( with my apologies to Little Orphan Annie)

by: Clay Sherrod

Featured is our twentieth Constellation Guide, "GO TO LACERTA" of the series "GO TO GUIDES for all GO TO Telescope Users". In a milestone of sorts as we edge about one-quarter the way through the 88 constellations recognized "officially" by the International Astronomical Union (I have yet to see them strike, picket or demand a wage hike), we land in the vicinity of celestial reptiles....actually the ONLY celestial reptile.
The Origins of Our Constellations -

I have always found it interesting - really - that there is not a single constellation nor bright star in the sky (nor has there EVER been) that is named on behalf of our beloved Toads or Frogs. After all, the toad and the common varieties of frogs are known worldwide and have been a staple of sound in our evening hours as we gaze upon the darkness of space. Who can ever forget the haunting sounds of the tiny peepers and green tree frogs in our remote dark sky sites as we gaze skyward in the late night cooling winds of deep summer?

But, alas, the ONLY reptilian recognition by our celestial founding fathers is that of a common LIZARD, the small northern constellation of LACERTA, perched in his threatening lizard-like manner tightly between the large constellations of Cygnus to its west and Andromeda to its east. (note that I do NOT include the Serpent, SERPENS nor the Dragon (Draco) as a true "reptile," but rather mythological in nature).

Lacerta, like the similarly small constellation of Vulpecula (see my "GO TO" guide in the GUIDES/Constellation/Sagitta) is a very recent addition to the constellation family. Since the earliest naming of our star patterns by the Arabian and Greek stargazers, exactly one half - 44 of them - are new additions. The latest are those added by the German mathematician-astronomer Hevelius in 1687 and those include Lacerta and Vulpecula. It seems that there were a few too many "leftover" stars between the conspicuous northern cross of Cygnus and those star groups to it east and he envisioned the need for a lizard....not a FROG mind you, but a that homeless groups of stars.

All of the original constellations were placed into groups numbering 48 by the 2nd century astronomer and philosopher Claudius Ptolemy, who randomly selected the 1022 brightest stars and put them into convenient groups for quick identification. You must remember, of course, that Ptolemy lived and worked in Alexandria of the Mediterranean, and his extensive list was comprise of ONLY star groups visible from his location and hence did NOT include any of the most recent southern constellations.

Consequently most of the newest constellations are those seen from far south latitudes. It was not until around 1603 that the first southern constellation names appeared in a star atlas by Johann Bayer, which added another dozen constellations to the known list. His additions were NOT from first-hand observations of these star patterns.....he depended solely on celestial navigational records by the earliest ship captains who ventured far to the south of Ptolemy's observing perch.

Three more southern constellations were quickly added about 21 years later by yet another German, Jakob Bartsch. For those who have seen the beauty of the Southern Cross (Crux), we can give the little-known Bartsch credit for taking THAT groups of four very bright stars out of the huge constellation of Centaurus (a Ptolemy original) and placing it as a separate constellations.

It was after this that seven MORE constellations were "made up" from leftover stars by Hevelius in 1687, all in the northern skies, while far south constellations were being added yet again by LaCaille in 1750, who tacked on his 15 additional star patterns to the total....

.....things were quickly getting out of hand. It was perhaps the earliest example of the 20th century scam to "own a piece of Mars", or get "your own star" (for a price). The constellation numbers were adding up! Constellations were being subdivided like mobile home lots in Arkansas, and there seemed to be no control nor end in sight. Alas, there was not any "Celestial Urban Planner" around when we needed one.

But in 1928, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) took charge of this rampant disregard for star turf abuse and established a permanent and binding system of boundaries and identifications for the exact 88 constellations that we have today. Many constellations were thrown out entirely. Some - like ARGO NAVIS in the southern hemisphere which represented a huge ship covering way too much sky - were divided into smaller ones. Others, like Pegasus - whose "great square" (see GUIDES/Constellations/Pegasus) was transformed into a TRIANGLE overnight by the taking of Alpheratz to place into Andromeda's boundaries - were altered in such a way that the boundaries were either expanded or restricted more than they were originally set. Even the great benchmarks of the Milky Way - Sagittarius and Scorpius - have seen their boundaries change drastically since 1600, finally ending up permanently (we hope) as they are represented today.
And.....Back to the Lizard -

The tiny north-south winding pattern of relatively faint naked eye stars in Lacerta DO perhaps suggest the curious "wiggly" motion of the hyperactive lizard when scurrying across hot pavement.  Likewise a SNAKE would have been appropriate, but there were already snake-like creatures (Serpens and Draco) in the sky. So Hevelius, likely after watching a writhing lizard from his hot tub in Germany, aptly appointed this small star group as "LACERTA" and the name survived the scrutiny and heavy hand of the IAU's constellation subcommittee.

Lacerta also has a couple of notable distinctions for its absences of:

1) Messier objects - it is one of the few constellations that has NO Messier objects within its bounds AND no deep sky object brighter than magnitude 9.0; and,

2) Named stars - Lacerta has NO named star within its boundary;

3) Galaxies - no galaxies brighter than magnitude 14.5 exist within its borders;

4) Globular clusters - there are no globular clusters in Lacerta.

What Lacerta DOES have are some interesting variable stars (there are 33 nice variables in the constellation), and some wonderful double/multiple stars (at least 35 for the amateur telescope). In addition there are a few select galactic clusters that are visible in small and moderate telescopes and ONE planetary nebular that "may" be glimpsed with 6-inch or larger telescope.

Pegasus is located high north of the Celestial Equator (the "0" demarcation line in declination) and hence all objects for our "GO TO" TOUR will have positive ("+") declinations. This small constellation rises far north of due east at dark (around 9 p.m. local time) in early June, but is a nearly-circumpolar constellation with its high declination and thus is visible throughout most of the year for most latitudes north of 30 degrees. It culminates (passes the meridian at midnight) each year about August 25.
Each GO TO object in Lacerta is discussed for your telescope regarding the type of conditions necessary for you to view it optimally for discern the very faintest details.........magnifications and aperture necessary for most objects, and much, much more. This is YOUR complete GUIDE to get you on your way to exploring the best objects (albeit only a few!) in Lacerta with your computerized telescope and its GO TO function. The following listing of "BEST" objects contains the finest or most interesting.

01a sherrod lacerta sm
Click for full-size version

Use this attached star chart and the following Guide as an excellent reference for your next star party itinerary, or a beginning for further study into the thousands of objects visible in this part of the sky. Truly these extensive Constellation Study Guides will most definitely put your AutoStar to work for you in the most efficient and enjoyable way possible! As a matter of fact, MANY AutoStar users are now programming their own "Tours" based on these guides, using each constellation as a separate GO TO Tour for the AutoStar or PC sky program library that can be added in or deleted through the main edit screen on your PC or MAC computer.

We hope you enjoy these comprehensive GUIDES to touring the constellations via your AutoStar or PC sky program and its computer-driven telescope. Each new installment is complete with diagrams, charts and illustrations that you will find nowhere else. Please let us hear YOUR feedback and your observations of each and every constellation after YOU have toured its vast reaches of our skies!

The small constellation of Lacerta presents stark contrast to its Milky-Way-rich neighbor to the west, CYGNUS and the fall spectacular to its east, Andromeda (Both constellations in ASO GUIDES!). There are only six (6) deep sky objects that are within reach of even the largest amateur telescopes and two of those will likely require a 5" or greater telescope for viewing. Nonetheless, there are some fantastic double and multiple stars at your beckoning call in this tiny constellation. To find out the details and coordinates of such stars, as well as a complete listing of suitable variable stars, consult with the "Burnham's Celestial Handbook," Vol. Two.

For double stars, I have always recommended the "whatever" rule: Use whatever power is necessary to cleanly and convincingly resolve the double star; on nights of poor seeing conditions less power can be effectively used, but on very steady nights, the sky is literally the limit. However, you will note that on double stars which exhibit COLOR, higher magnifications will tend to wash out color contrasts, so use only the magnification necessary to obtain good separation and optimum image scale for viewing.

I have chosen the finest (or most interesting) 11 objects in this LACERTA "GO TO" TOUR; as with all GUIDES, all objects listed below will be visible in most telescopes (some naked eye) from 3-inch to 8-inch; of course larger apertures may "show" an object a bit closer and "better," but frequently a wide field and low power view is more desirable than aperture for FINDING the objects initially. Indeed, I strongly encourage you first FIND the target object, or its approximate location through your GO TO function with your lowest power and then - once IDENTIFIED positively - move up slowly in steps with magnification if necessary. Remember, not all objects "like" magnification. Sometimes better "field of view" (such as the wonderful wide fields provided by small refractors) is desired over light gathering (like the larger 8-10 inch) and magnification.

The rule for determining "optimum magnification" is that: 1) too low power results in sky background glow detracting or diminishing the contrast against the deep sky object; 2) too high magnification darkens BOTH the sky background AND the object; 3) medium magnification can be achieved at which you have MAXIMUM contrast between the object and its darkened background sky. I have found through three decades of direct observing that about 15x per inch aperture, for deep sky observing is PERFECT for most objects. That being said, always remember that DOUBLE or multiple stars require whatever power you can crank out....the seeing conditions are the limiting factor here.

For my complete and comprehensive discussion regarding seeing conditions and sky transparency, see my discussion of this topic in GUIDES - Frequent, here on the ASO website .

With all deep sky objects, avoid attempting to observe when the moon is in the sky, even a very thin crescent, as its brightness in the sky will overshadow the very dim contrast afforded by even the brightest deep sky object; if you see the object at all against moonlight, you will NOT see the subtle outlying areas or the full detail of what is presented.

Pisces is dominant in late summer skies; riding mid-way on the Celestial Equator, it is suited for long-period observing for ETX and LX 90 users both north and south of the equator. The "Circlet" in western Pisces rises in the east about dark (9 p.m. local time) on about July 25 and the center of the constellation "culminates " (passes over the meridian at midnight) around October 3, remaining in the sky throughout that night. All deep sky objects and difficult double stars are ALWAYS best observed when they are located nearly overhead (or as high in the sky as possible), thus requiring the observer to look through the thinnest portion of the Earth's "lens" of atmosphere and haze.

As with all of the "GO TO" TOUR constellation lists, I recommend a good star atlas and/or chart which will list all the finest objects, constellation-by-constellation. One very handy reference guide is the PETERSON FIELD GUIDE TO THE STARS AND PLANETS, which features complete lists with declinations, right ascensions, magnitudes, and all pertinent information for you to expand your observing horizons beyond this brief GUIDE.

FOR AUTOSTAR:  Note that your AutoStar will NOT have every object listed on every constellation GO TO tour....this is intentional. You can access some of the most interesting objects of the sky directly from their coordinates. It is quite simple as you merely enter these coordinates as follows in the 10-step process:

1) Press the "MODE" key and hold down for 3 seconds and release;
2) Displayed will be the current Right Ascension and Declination of the center of field of view of where your telescope is presently pointed (assuming that you have properly aligned from "home position");
3) [NOTE: if you have the Meade electric focuser attached to any of the ETX or LX telescopes, holding down the "MODE" key will bring up the "Focus" command first....merely scroll (lower right scroll key) down one step to access the RA and DEC to enter your desired coordinates]
4) Press the "GO TO" button on AutoStar;
5) This will change the display and you will note the cursor blinking over the first digit of RIGHT ASCENSION (R.A.); merely use the number keys and dial in the R.A. of the object you are searching for;
6) When done, press "Enter;"
7) This moves the blinking cursor over the "DEC" coordinates; 8) [NOTE: the declination, unlike R.A., can be either positive or negative and you will see the "+" or "-" sign displayed depending on where your telescope is aimed at that time; if it is NOT the desired setting (plus or minus), merely use your arrow key to move the blinking cursor OVER the "+" or "-" sign and change by using either of your lower corner SCROLL KEYS; 9) Proceed to enter the DEC using number keys; 10) Press either "Enter" or "Go To" when finished and the telescope begins slewing to your desired object!!

The constellation tour Star Chart above (click on and save to a file on your PC; then open it and re-size to fit the page and print for a very handy at-the-scope star chart) will get you started on your journey for this constellation.
With all deep sky objects avoid attempting to observe when the moon is in the sky, even a very thin crescent, as its brightness in the sky will overshadow the very dim contrast afforded by even the brightest deep sky object.

Following is the concise object list for your "GO TO" TOUR of LACERTA; you may wish to find the majority of the objects from the AutoStar Library (for example, you can easily go to "ngc7209" if you pull up "Object/Deep Sky/NGC/..type in '7209'...." and then press "Enter", followed by "GO TO" to access this galactic cluster. On the other hand, if you want to experiment and become a "better AutoStar user" try entering the exact R.A. and DEC coordinates of that object as described above after holding down the MODE key. You will find the accuracy of entered GO TO's to be somewhat less than those stored in AutoStar, but the capability of acquiring unlisted objects is fantastic!

Of course, for direct access of the constellation itself via AutoStar or sky program, you might choose to merely key in SELECT / OBJECT / CONSTELLATION / ....and scroll to "Lacerta." Enter and then press " GO TO" and you are off to the brightest star of lizard land!
    brighter star -  (alpha Lacertae) - R.A. 22h 30' / DEC + 50 02 - Magnitude:  3.9 - nice optical double
    incredible multiple star - Roe 47 - R.A. 22 30' / DEC + 39 31 - Mags: 6, 10, 10, 10, 9.5, 10.5 (yep!)
    quad star  - 8 Lacertae - R.A. 22h 34' /  DEC + 39 23 - Mags: 6, 6.5, 9.5, 10.5 - possible in all scopes!
    ETX 90 test double - 13 Lacertae -  R.A. 22h 42' / DEC + 41 33 - Mags:  5.5 & 11, tough for small scopes
    variable star - RS Lacertae - R.A. 22h 11' / DEC + 43 31 - Mag: 9.5 to 12.4 - semi regular, 234 days!
    galactic cluster - ngc7209 - R.A. 22h 02' / DEC + 46 16 - Mag: 9, very large and open
    galactic cluster - IC1434 - R.A. 22h 09' / DEC + 52 35 - Magnitude: 10, very small, tough
    galactic cluster - ngc7243 - R.A. 22h 13' / DEC + 49 38 - Magnitude: 7.5 total, large and open -BONUS!!
    galactic cluster - ngc7245 - R.A. 22h 14' / DEC + 54 05 - Magnitude: 11.3, tough, 5-inch and larger +
    galactic cluster - ngc7296 - R.A. 22h 26' / DEC + 52 02 - Magnitude: 9.4, tiny, only a few stars
    planetary nebula - IC5217 - R.A. 22h 22' / DEC + 40 43 - Mag. 12.2, very tough and TINY planetary

....SO LET'S LEAP ON OUR LIZARD-OF-LATE AND LOLLYGAG AWAY!! (refer to the Lacerta Star Chart for all the objects described in detail on the "Guide")

Object 1 - Brighter Star - alpha Lacertae - Also a Nice Optical Double Star
Notice that the above description indicates "brighter star," and NOT "bright star." At magnitude 3.9, this star is one of the faintest primary stars within any of the 88 constellations. It is a "solar type" star, type-A, very similar in both mass and evolution to our sun. Alpha Lacertae - also one of the FEW unnamed primary stars of any constellation - is a pretty nice optical (not physically bound by gravity) double star, also known as "Barnard 703." At a relatively far (36" arc, about the extent of Jupiter's diameter seen in the same eyepiece) is VERY faint, magnitude 12, star almost due northwest of the 3.9 magnitude Alpha. This very faint star will be best seen in an 8-inch, but can be glimpsed in a 6-inch on very dark nights; even in a 4-inch, if the brighter star is obscured with a dark crosshair of a reticle eyepiece, might reveal this faint and more distant star.

Object 2 - Roe 47 - A Complex Multiple Star System in Lacerta
Examine the diagram I have prepared below for the interesting quadruple star "ROE 47" in Lacerta. This complex star system - just as the next object, "8 Lacerta" which is even MORE complex - is a wonderful challenge for the ETX 90, and even is a test for patience with those using larger telescopes. Certainly the four main stars of this true physical quadruple stars are bright enough to be discerned clearly and without doubt in the 3.5" scope - magnitudes 6 (primary star), 10 (star B), 10.5 (star C) and 10 (star D). In addition the separations from the brighter 6th magnitude star are ample for a clean split.

In the past I have always discussed the location of a secondary star to its primary in terms of DIRECTION (i.e., North, South....or NW, SE, SSW, etc.). In the "real world" of astronomy, we refer to the location of one star relative to another in terms of POSITION ANGLE, as shown in the following two diagrams. Although these diagrams are oriented for YOUR telescope's view - NORTH at top and EAST to the right - they also are correctly oriented for double star plotting.

02 sherrod roe47

POSITION ANGLE is the measurement in degrees from 0 degrees to 359 degrees as measured FROM DUE NORTH toward EAST....east is P.A. 90 degrees....south is P.A. 180 degrees....west is P.A. 270 degrees and due north from center (the primary star again) is 360 degrees. It is very merely use this layout exactly as shown like a protractor and always measure clockwise from NORTH through EAST. So let us look at these two complex star systems beginning with this Lacerta GO TO Guide in terms of BOTH direction and position angle.

Star "B" in Roe 47 is located as you can plainly see roughly SE of the primary star "A"; its true POSITION ANGLE is 158 degrees as measured from north clockwise through east. Look for this 10th magnitude star about 43" arc (almost exactly the same distance in "arc that Jupiter's disk appears in the same eyepiece) in P.A. 158. Similar, 10.5 magnitude Star "C", at only slightly less distance is in P.A. 344 degrees, or NNW of the primary star. Tenth magnitude Star "D" is SSW of "A", at a distance of 106" (about twice the distance of the other two from "A"), and is found in P.A. 216 degrees.

This is a fun object for the ETX 90 and larger scopes and added aperture just makes it easier and more enjoyable. Medium powers are recommended, perhaps about 15x to 20x per inch aperture for best viewing of all four stars within the same field of view. It IS possible that all four of these stars CAN be seen at high magnification (about 100x) very small telescopes.

Object 3 - "8 Lacertae" - An Even MORE Complex Multiple Star - THIS ONE IS A CHALLENGE!
You will likely need a short break after attempting this one. Here is a system of SIX - yes SIX - stars that are an actually gravitationally-bound group in a common and complex orbit.

03 sherrod 8lac

We will use again our guide from POSITION ANGLE to locate each of these stars. Note that FOUR (4) of these stars should be visible in the ETX 60 (high power and dark skies) with difficulty; the same four with a 3-inch rather easily, FIVE (5) with a good 6-inch and medium high (about 160x) magnification, and all SIX (6) with the 8-inch or larger under very dark skies and powers approaching 400x being required. The stars are again designated "A" (the primary), "B" at P.A. 186 degrees (nearly due south from A a wide 22" arc and a bright 6.5 magnitude); "C" much fainter at magnitude 10.5 in P.A. 169 degrees, again very far off at 48" arc; and "D" at magnitude 9.5 and twice as far (81" arc) as any of the rest in P.A. 145 degrees (nearly SE) from "A". Notice from the chart above how extremely close that "C" and "D" both ALSO have companion stars! The tiny 14th magnitude companion to "C" can ONLY be seen in the LX 90 and then it is a challenge....separated ONLY by 1.3" arc! (the position angle of that 14th mag. star is measured at 254 degrees from "C", and not from "A" in this case!). Star "D" has a slightly easier companion star - 13th magnitude - that can be glimpsed in the larger scopes in P.A. 226 degrees from "D" by 9.1" arc, so it should be MUCH easier to spot.

Whew!.....take a break. But DON'T MISS THIS STAR!....and "yes" this will be your "User Object" for this installment of our "GO TO" TOUR for Lacerta! (how could I resist!?)

Object 4 - OKAY...Let's have an EASY Double Star - 13 Lacertae - Good test for 4-inch telescope
If you have recovered from that hair-raising experience with Object 3, then you are raring to get started on another double star....but this one is a piece of cake. The smaller secondary is right at the limiting magnitude of a 3-inch at about 150x; a 6-inch and larger scopes will reveal the companion easily. The star 13 Lacertae features an easy-to-find 5.5 magnitude star as the primary star and an 11th magnitude secondary star at P.A. 129 degrees and nicely spaced 15" arc away. Do you remember WHERE Position Angle 129 degrees is? Remember the rules:

1) The primary star is the "center of a clock;"
2) Due NORTH from that star is "0" degrees and the clock moves clockwise to measure;
3) When you reach due EAST from the primary star (a "3:00 position on the clock") that is 90 degrees;
4) "6:00" on the clock face is due south from the primary and is 180 degrees P.A.;
5) As the clock "rotates" clockwise, we reach WEST at 270 degrees P.A.
6) Back to straight-up north, we are in P.A. 359 to 0 degrees!

So....based on that....have you figured out that the 11th magnitude secondary to "13 Lacertae" is just about ESE from its primary? In nearly all future constellation guides, I will be referring to double stars in POSITION ANGLE placement (with little reminders on what that means) as we all are attaining more and more proficiency with the sky! Good luck!

Object 5 - A Good Semi-Regular Variable Star, RS Lacertae
RS Lacertae is a very good variable star for observers with small to moderate telescopes, as it ranges in magnitude from 9.5 to 12.4 through its "not-so-regular" cycle of about 237 days. Within that long cycle are many "ups and downs" and sudden outbursts which may take place in only a matter of hours or days! Remember that if you are interested in serious variable star research and contributions, to contact the American Association of Variable Star Observers in Cambridge, Massachusetts via: for a complete description of the many publications and charts as well as observing manuals that are available online.

Once you have used your AutoStar GO TO to acquire the low power field surrounding RS Lacerta, refer to the charts .  Note for these charts, simply type in the NAME of the variable at top to generate your choice of chart -
in which is the "a" scale finder and star comparison chart for given star magnitudes down to about magnitude 12.4; this chart should be ample for all observations with all scopes, since the star's magnitude rarely goes lower than 12.4 (there is a great "12.4" magnitude comparison star located right next to the spot for RS Lac!) A 6-inch and larger scopes will have no trouble following this star through its complete cycle; at dimmest (which does not last long), the star will be right at the limiting magnitude threshold for a 4-inch.

Object 6 - Finally! One of the few Deep Sky Objects in Lacerta - Galactic Cluster ngc7209
You can put another notch on the old blue tube assembly for this NGC object; just knowing you saw it should send chills down your spine, since you likely have not ever seen this (nor any of the other ones in Lacerta) before....and likely will not again.

NGC 7209 is a very large (20' arc...the moon is only 30'!) open cluster of about 50 stars scattered about. If you use too much magnification, you will NOT see the cluster effect at all. As a matter of fact, other than is the truly huge wide field 2" eyepieces for larger telescopes, this does not appear as a cluster at all due to its size. However, all 50 some odd stars, magnitude 9 through 12 should be visible in both of those scopes as well as most in smaller, wide field telescopes. Very low powers on very dark skies with small scopes will reveal a very faint glow, perhaps the nicest view of all. This cluster is one of many on the very eastern fringes of the Milky Way through Cygnus.

Object 7 - Another Peripheral Milky Way Star Cluster - IC1434
Located JUST inside the northwest corner of Lacerta (right inside the Lacerta-Cepheus-Cygnus borders) is this tiny, tiny - and very faint - galactic cluster of about forty stars crammed into the small space of only 8' arc; it has a total magnitude of only 10.0, so the 40 odd stars are in the 9th and 11th magnitude range, thus accessible to a 3-inch at medium high magnification; because of its small size and faint stars I highly recommend about 30x to 40x per inch aperture in all telescopes. This object will be missed in smaller telescopes.

Object 8 - Nice Galactic Cluster with a Bonus! NGC 7243 + Struve 2890 Triple Star!
This is a fairly bright and large open cluster, the same size (20' arc) as ngc7209, but somewhat brighter at a total magnitude of 8.0; its 45 stars range between 8.5 and 11, including the wonderful TRIPLE star Struve2890. The cluster itself is clearly visible in all scopes and lowest powers are best.

Look for Struve2890 DEAD CENTER of this cluster; the primary star is the brightest star of the cluster at magnitude 8.5. Look for its "B" component (mag. 8.5 also!) a full 9.4" arc away, easily split all scopes from the ETX 60 up! Their equal magnitudes and yellow colors provide a wonderful medium power sight. They are arranged in a near north-south orientation from one-another so it is difficult to determine "which" is the actual primary star. If you look at P.A. 278 degrees (nearly due west) from the mid-point of the two brighter stars, you will find ANOTHER easy star very far away (94" arc - two "jupiters" distant) that is magnitude 9.4 and also visible in all our scopes, although difficultly so in the small telescopes.

Object 9 - guessed it: Another Galactic Star Cluster! NGC 7245
Just north of IC 1434 (see above) and in the northern extreme of Lacerta is a VERY small (only 3' arc!) cluster, the farthest (by double) of all the clusters in Lacerta. This tiny object is ONLY magnitude 11.5 and is not visible in a 6-inch, even though that scope's limiting magnitude should reach that far. Its 50 stars are seen in only the world's largest telescopes; in a good 8-inch this will appear as a very small fuzzy star, only the size of the planet Mercury at the same magnification!

Object 10 - Our Last Faint Fuzzy Galactic Cluster - NGC 7296
Another very small (4' arc in diameter) galactic cluster, ngc7296 CAN be glimpsed in both the ETX 90 and the ETX 125 as a VERY faint (magnitude 9.4) fuzzy object that clearly is not a star. It has only about 15 stars total, all too faint to be seen in those scopes but I have clearly seen two (2) faint stars in an 8-inch; it is resolvable entirely in the 24" at very high magnification.

Object 11 - Finally - A Planetary Nebula....but don't get too excited folks. This one is TOUGH! NGC 5217 about a planetary nebula that is nearly 12.5 magnitude and ONLY 12" arc. This is a large-scope object only. In telescopes 5-10 inches, it CAN be seen, but only as a roundish pale glow even at 447x under steady and dark skies. Only the imagination reveals that it "might" be nebulous similar to a planetary nebula. Larger scopes can easily reveal the central star at magnitude 14.5. Many observers with large telescope report that this central star is actually easier to make out than the faint shell of nebulosity.

Here is your interesting triple star Struve2890 imbedded in the galactic cluster ngc7243! This is a double bang for your "User Object Buck!" for your Autostar library and one that you would likely overlook and never pursue if you could not GO TO it directly. Remember \ that ALL three stars will be easy (under dark sky conditions) in the telescopes larger than 6 inches.

On AutoStar, go to: "Select/Object [enter]...." scroll down to "User Object" [ enter]. Now enter the coordinates given above for "Struve2890", using the number keys on AutoStar. After entering the coordinates and pressing "Enter" yet again, scroll down one and you can list the magnitude of the object as "8"[Enter].

This will be your first double-whammy on the USER OBJECT list, two for the GO TO of one!

Next Constellation GO TO" TOUR Installment: CELESTIAL SWIMMIN' IN THE SOUTHERN SKIES...PISCES the fish. From a scaly lizard to a scaly fish....does it get any better than this? Pisces, totally void of ANY viewable deep sky objects EXCEPT faint galaxies and some gorgeous double stars, is another of those deep south star-poor constellations in the Capricorn-Aquarius-Pisces realm of our skies...almost seemingly intentional as we await the blazing glory of the bright and richly reward skies of autumn and winter!

Good Observing and explorations of this wonderful world of deep space!

Clay Sherrod
Arkansas Sky Observatory
Conway / Petit Jean Mountain
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