If you look at the Double Cluster with a pair of binoculars or a low power telescope, there is something that immediately strikes you. There is a group of very bright stars forming a large ring that emanates from the Double Cluster, off towards the top right. This ring of stars looks like a bracelet with the Double Cluster attached as some sort of celestial charm. Now what’s really odd about the bracelet itself is that it is not clearly visible on planetarium programs, nor is it clear on most images of the region – but the human eye and a pair of binoculars really show it very clearly indeed – must be some property of the eye involving contrast enhancement (and survival 🙂 ).
Well, this is the first image that I’ve taken of the region that actually shows Greg’s Charm Bracelet pretty clearly. This image comprises two datasets put together by Noel Carboni with a final bit of tweaking from yours truly to bring out the bracelet more clearly. Data was acquired in two imaging sessions using the mini-WASP array and is around 4-hours of total integration time using 4-minute sub-exposures.
The image still does not do this star field any justice whatsoever, so my advice is to pick up a pair of binoculars next clear Moonless night and take a look for yourself. You’ll find the Double Cluster pretty close to Cassiopeia, the “W” shaped constellation in the sky. Go to the second bright star from the left in Cassiopeia and come down at around the 7 O’Clock position. Looking by eye alone (with dark skies) you will be able to see a small fuzzy glowing region. Now get the binoculars onto it – and be prepared to be blown away 🙂