NGC 559 is a magnitude +9.5 open cluster in Cassiopeia that's faintly visible with binoculars, but better seen with telescopes. The surrounding area of sky is full of bright clusters including NGC 457, M 52, M 103, NGC 129, NGC 7789, NGC 654, NGC 663 and IC 1848. As a result, tenth magnitude NGC 559 is not a standout object. However, it's easy to find and a nice target for small and medium size scopes.

NGC 559 (credit:- Roberto Mura)

William Herschel discovered NGC 559 on November 9, 1787. The cluster is positioned towards the eastern edge of the "W" of Cassiopeia and 3 degrees north of Ruchbah (δ Cas - mag. +2.7). To the southeast of NGC 559 are open clusters NGC 654 (mag. +6.5), NGC 663 (mag. +7.1), M 103 (mag. +7.4) and NGC 659 (mag. +7.9). From most northern temperate latitudes, NGC 559 is circumpolar and therefore visible all year round. It appears highest in the sky during October, November and December.

Finder Chart for NGC 559 (credit:- freestarcharts)

Finder Chart for NGC 559 - pdf format (credit:- freestarcharts)

Although visible with binoculars as a faint unresolved patch of light, NGC 559 is better seen with small and medium size scopes. A 100mm (4-inch) refractor reveals up to 15 stars superimposed on a grainy background. The brightest four stars are between 11th and 12th magnitude with another dozen between 13th and 14th magnitudes. In total, about 50 stars belong to the cluster, which spans 7 arc minutes of apparent sky. Larger apertures reveal many of the fainter stars.

NGC 559 is located 3,700 light-years distance and has a spatial diameter of 7 light-years. It's an old cluster with an estimated age of 2 billion years and is listed as number 8 in the Caldwell catalogue.

NGC 559 Data Table

Object TypeOpen Cluster
Distance (light-years)3,700
Apparent Mag.+9.5
RA (J2000)01h 29m 29s
DEC (J2000)63h 18m 30s
Apparent Size (arc mins)7 x 7
Radius (light-years)3.75
Age (years)2 Billion
Number of Stars50
Other NameCollinder 13

Sky Highlights - March 2017

Comet 41P/Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresak now visible with binoculars as it heads towards perihelion

Mercury heading towards greatest elongation east

Minor Planet
Vesta now visible with binoculars and small telescopes.

The Planets
This Month's Guide

Algol Minima
Algol eclipse dates and times for March 2017

Northern Hemisphere
West:- Venus (mag. -4.8 to -4.1 - first half of month), Mars (mag. +1.3 to +1.5), Uranus (mag. +5.9), Mercury (mag. -1.5 to -0.4 - second half of month)
Southeast:- Jupiter (mag. -2.3 to -2.5)
Southwest:- Jupiter
Southeast:- Saturn (mag. +0.5)

Southern Hemisphere
West:- Venus (first half of month), Mars, Uranus
North:- Jupiter
East:- Saturn
West:- Jupiter
Northeast:- Saturn
East:- Neptune (mag. +8.0 - second half of month)

Deep Sky
Naked eye / binoculars:-
Melotte 111 - Mel 111 - The Coma Star Cluster (Open Cluster)
Messier 44 - M44 - The Praesepe (Open Cluster)

Messier 67 - M67 - Open Cluster
Messier 51 - M51 - The Whirlpool Galaxy (Spiral Galaxy)
Messier 97 - M97 - The Owl Nebula (Planetary Nebula)
Messier 101 - M101 - The Pinwheel Galaxy (Spiral Galaxy)
Messier 65 – M65 – Spiral Galaxy
Messier 66 - M66 - Intermediate Spiral Galaxy
Messier 95 - M95 - Barred Spiral Galaxy
Messier 96 - M96 - Intermediate Spiral Galaxy
NGC 4244 - Spiral Galaxy
NGC 4565 - Needle Galaxy - Spiral Galaxy

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