NGC 6866 (Kite Cluster) -- Open Cluster in Cygnus
The Kite Cluster
Cygnus’ Open Cluster, NGC 6866, is most often referred to as the “Kite Cluster”. It
was first found by Caroline Herschel (sister to William Herschel) in 1883. Because
of the accumulation of dim unresolved stars both William and Caroline believed that
a nebula was entangled in the star cluster. Today we know that only stars make up
this pretty little cluster. Through the six-inch under suburban skies the faint cloud of
unresolved stars behind its brightest members does indeed remind me of a kite.
Stephen O’Meara calls NGC 6866 the “Frigate Bird Cluster”. After seeing his
drawing of the Open Cluster in his book “Hidden Treasures”, I too can see how a
Frigate Bird would also fit the star pattern. I wonder if his observing site on Hawaii’s
big island, where Frigate Birds are often seen, influenced his view of the cluster. I
believe I will stick to the name Kite Cluster since I see far more paper-kites than flying
Frigate Birds in Maryland.