Star Chains

Gus Johnson's List of Star Chains

Background: This list is adapted from Gus' letter of 1985 March 30, which appeared in the May 1985 and December 2006 issues of Regulus. It was revised by Leo Enright in November of 2006 to include the 2000.0 coordinates for some of the stars that are not listed according to Bayer Designation or Flamsteed Number, and for some other objects. To assist further in the location of these star chains, the Uranometria 2000.0 Chart Number is given for the star chains and the areas in which they are found.

Kemble's Cascade
Kemble's Cascade. (Photo by Walter MacDonald.)

(NOTE: The star designations used in some cases by Gus Johnson included their numbers as given on the charts of Norton's Star Atlas. For stars without Bayer Designation or Flamsteed Number, Norton's charts showed many stars' numbers from the star catalogues of F.G.W. Struve, Otto Struve, and S.W. Burnham, and others. Unfortunately the charts of our more modern star atlases, such as SkyAtlas 2000.0, Uranometria 2000.0, and Millennium Star Atlas, do not have any designation for these stars, though the HD number may be found in Sky Catalogue 2000.0.)

  1. In Ursa Major, north of the stars Zeta UMa and Eta UMa in a gentle curve. (See U49.)
  2. The Pleiades Cluster has several chains, the most notable near the star Alcyone. (See U132.)
  3. The famous "Kemble's Cascade" is rich with stars, and runs about 3º North and West of the cluster NGC 1502 in the constellation Camelopardalis. (See U18.) How to find it.*
  4. One runs southwest of the star 13 Lacertae (R.A.: 22h 44m; Dec.: +41º50'). (See U87.)
  5. A four-star chain is seen about 1½º from the famous "Garnet Star", Mu Cephei. (U57)
  6. The star Struve 385 (R.A.: 3h 29m; Dec.: +59º55') in Camelopardalis is about central in a chain running North and South. (See U38 and U39.)
  7. The open cluster M35 in Gemini has an obvious chain. (See U136 and U137.)
  8. Near the "twin double stars" Struve 2470 (R.A.: 19h 17.9m; Dec.: +34º45') and Struve 2474 (R.A.: 19h 8.2m; Dec.: +34º35') both about 2½º NE of Gamma Lyrae, there are two chains, both of which have about 5 stars. (See U118.)
  9. Near the star Burnham 975 in Lyra, there is a five-star chain. (See U117; also web reports)
  10. In Taurus, making an isosceles triangle with the star Zeta Tauri and M1 (the Crab Nebula) is a star chain running approximately away from Zeta, with a triangle at the end of it. (See U136.)
  11. In Sagittarius, in M24, in the main dark lane at the apex of two curved star chains is a triple star. (It may be an optical alignment, rather than a "physical triple".) (See U339.)
  12. In a telescopic field, there is a long star chain near the star Delta Sagittarii (R.A.: 18h 21m; Dec.: -28º50') and NGC 6624 (R.A.: 18h 23.6m; Dec.: -30º20'). (See U378.)
  13. About ¾ of a degree East of M103 in Cassiopeia (at R.A.: 1h 28.6m; Dec.: +60º45'), there is a tight five star chain. The second star from one end is a double star of approximately equal magnitudes and oriented perpendicular to the direction of the chain. (Use medium to high power to view this double.) (See U16.)
  14. A star chain is in the Open Cluster NGC 752 (R.A.: 1h 58m; Dec.: +37º40') in And.
  15. In Scorpius (at R.A.: 17h 25m; Dec.: -35º.) there is a four-star chain running approximately North and South, and nicely seen in binoculars. (See U376.)
  16. The open star clusters, M30 in Capricornus and M41 in Canis Major, have star chains. (For M30, see U345 and U346. For M41, see U318.)

NOTE: My personal addition to this list would be a favourite of mine - a slightly curving chain of stars running from the Open Cluster Stock 2 (R.A.: 2h 15m: Dec.: +59º20') to NGC 869 which is the more westerly member of the Double Cluster in Perseus. The Double Cluster, of course, is naked-eye from a reasonably dark site, but the star chain is binocular. (See U37.)
Leo Enright

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