NGC 7243 -- Open Cluster in Lacerta
Caldwell 16 & Struve 2890
The Open Cluster NGC 7243 often takes a second look before one finds it worth the visit.
At first glance one may not recognize it as a cluster since it is spread out with few stars. It
is also located in the center of the rich Milky Way stream that hides the cluster among a
background of numerous stars. Some older studies claim that NGC 7243 was not a cluster,
but more recent studies revives its Open Cluster status. Photographs of this cluster are
always disappointing and misleading – the cluster is much better visually.
Don’t give up on the cluster at your first sight at it. If you tweak your telescope just right, you
will find it lovely to the eye. Patrick Alfred Caldwell-Moore thought so and so do I. It made
the Caldwell list (Caldwell 16) and the Herschel 400 list so have a little patience with it.
To me the cluster comes alive at low power, just enough magnification to separate the
double star (Struve 2890) at the center – but no more. I find that if I use the absolute lowest
magnification that puts black space between Struve 2890 and focus my attention on the
double-star the cluster begins to form a pleasing natural blending of additional stars around
it. Go for it – and you will see that I am right.