NGC 6882/6885 is an open cluster in the faint constellation of Vulpecula that can just about be seen with the naked eye, is easy with binoculars and has up to 40 stars visible through telescopes. The object has somewhat of a confusing history. In September 1784, William Herschel discovered two open clusters, NGC 6882 and NGC 6885. He subsequently catalogued them but with virtually identical descriptions. Since no cluster exists that matches the location and description of NGC 6882, many astronomers believe that Herschel made a mistake and simply repeated his observation. However, the story doesn't end here. Adding to the confusion is a fainter, smaller and less rich cluster, Collinder 416, that's positioned at the northwest edge of NGC 6882/6885. Some astronomers believe this to be NGC 6882.

NGC 6882/6885 is grouped around the brightest member star, 20 Vul (mag. +5.9). Located 1.5 degrees northeast of NGC 6882/6885 is 23 Vul, which at mag. +4.5 is the second brightest star in the constellation. Positioned 9 degrees west-northwest of the cluster is the beautiful double star Albireo (mag. +2.9) in Cygnus.

NGC 6882 / NGC 6885 (credit:- Roberto Mura)

Finder Chart for NGC 6882 / NGC 6885 (credit:- freestarcharts)

Finder Chart for NGC 6882 / NGC 6885 - pdf format (credit:- freestarcharts)

NGC 6882/6885 is faintly visible to the naked eye under dark skies, appearing as a hazy patch of light. Binoculars easily reveal 20 Vul although on initial glance the cluster may be missed due to the glare of the star. On further inspection the main members of the grouping are resolvable. Surrounded them is a misty glow with the centre of the cluster appearing loose. A small scope reveals more members with larger scopes revealing up to 40 stars. In total, NGC 6882/6885 is spread over 20 arc minutes of sky.

NGC 6882/6885 has a combined mag. of +5.5. The nearby smaller fainter cluster Collinder 416 (Cr 416) shines at mag. +8.1 and spans 8 arc minutes. To many observers, the region appears as just one loose star grouping.

NGC 6882/6885 is a very old cluster with an estimated age of 1.4 billion years. It's about 2,000 light-years distant from Earth and is listed as number 37 in the Caldwell catalogue. The cluster is best seen from northern locations during the months of July, August and September.

NGC 6882 / NGC 6885 Data Table

NGC6882 / 6885
Caldwell37
Object TypeOpen Cluster
ConstellationVulpecula
Distance (ly)2,000
Apparent Mag.+5.5
RA (J2000)20h 11m 56s
DEC (J2000)26d 29m 20s
Apparent Size (arc mins)20 x 20
Radius (light-years)6
Age (years)1.4 Billion
Number of Stars40
Notable FeatureQuesions remain regarding if NGC 6882 and NGC 6885 are indeed the same item

Sky Highlights - September 2017

Opposition
Neptune reaches opposition on September 5th

The Planets
This Month's Guide

Algol Minima
Algol eclipse dates and times for September

Northern Hemisphere
Evening
West:- Jupiter (mag. -1.7)
Southwest:- Saturn (mag. +0.5)
East:- Neptune (mag. +7.8)
Midnight
South:- Neptune
East:- Uranus (mag. +5.7)
Morning
West:- Neptune
South:- Uranus
East:- Venus (mag. -3.9), Mars (mag. +1.8) (from second week), Mercury (mag. +0.5 to -1.3) (from second week)

Southern Hemisphere
Evening
West:- Jupiter
Northwest:- Saturn
East:- Neptune
Midnight
West:- Saturn
North:- Neptune
Northeast:- Uranus
Morning
West:- Neptune
Northwest:- Uranus
Northeast:- Venus
East:- Mars (end of month)

Deep Sky

Small telescopes:-
Messier 13 - M13 - Great Hercules Globular Cluster
Messier 92 - M92 - Globular Cluster
Messier 11 - M11 - The Wild Duck Cluster (Open Cluster)
Messier 7 - M7 - The Ptolemy Cluster (Open Cluster)
Messier 6 - M6 - The Butterfly Cluster (Open Cluster)
Messier 4 - M4 - Globular Cluster
Messier 8 - M8 - Lagoon Nebula (Emission Nebula)
Messier 16 - M16 - Eagle Nebula (Emission Nebula with Open Cluster)
Messier 20 - M20 - Trifid Nebula (Emission and Reflection Nebula)

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