NGC 1857 & Czernik 20 in part -- Open Clusters in Auriga
The night was crystal-clear, but the wind compromised the stability of the atmosphere. The
G-11 mount held the 6-inch refractor like a vice and was little affected by the wind, so I spent
a few hours braving the stiff-breeze to observe.
The Open Cluster NGC 1857 is a pleasing, small (10 arcminutes) with a 7.5 magnitude
ruddy-colored star at its center. The cluster resides near the center of the Auriga
constellation’s polygon about 7 degrees south of Capella. In most, but not all, star atlases
NGC 1857 is shown inside another far-larger Open Cluster, Czernik 20.
In the drawing, NGC 1857 and everything north (up) belongs in Czernik 20. The small triangle
of stars in the upper part of the drawing is close to the center of Czernik 20, thus my drawing
only covers about half of the larger cluster. The majority of Czernik 20’s brighter star-members
are outside the drawing.
Czernik 20 is noticeable (with imagination) in binoculars, but it is too spread-out for a
telescope to do it justice. NGC 1857 is just the opposite, it requires some magnification to
bring out the dimmer stars associated with the cluster. While Czernik 20 is hardly impressive,
NGC 1857 is a delight to observe and worth spending some time with – even if it is windy.