Wayne Schmidt's Stellar Asterisms Page Locations and sketches of 62 astronomical asterisms.

 
Astronomical asterisms, star patterns that suggest shapes, are strongly dependant on their orientation in the eyepiece, magnification, resolving power and imagination of the viewer. A collection of stars that looks like a hat when viewed through image-inverting refractors may look like a bucket or nothing at all in erect-image binoculars. Something that clearly appears to be a clown's head at low power may have no discernable shape when spread out at higher power. Some patterns are obvious in small instruments that can only see a few bright stars yet dissolve into confusion when viewed at the same magnification but through a larger instrument that picks up more stars. Finally, people with active imaginations may more easily pick out patterns that others can't. All of these factors mean that asterisms are the most subjective and personal of all astronomical observations. I'm posting this list in spite of the fact that many people will never interpret these patterns the same way I do but may find it entertaining just the same.

Most of these these asterisms were observed with a pair of 8-inch aperture reflecting binoculars mounted on a motorized chair.


(Please click here for more information on this instrument.)

 
Most observations were made using 50mm Plossls yielding 32 power and a 1.4-degree field of view. Barlow lenses were used for boosting this to 90 power. These binoculars produce an image that's upside down but correct left-to-right.

The sketches included with this list are copies of original sketches made at the eyepiece and are in the same orientation on this page as seen through the eyepiece. While I did my best to create reasonable representations, inaccuracies resulting from the limits of digital sketching and processing defects introduced by the software used to create this page result in renderings that only suggest what they looked like at the time of observation. The sketches are scaled so that their relative sizes are about right. They are in NGC numerical order. I did not include location details because in this era of computerized locators such information is hardly necessary.

Many of these asterisms result from combining both the NGC group associated with them as well as additional stars in the local vicinity. The number of "+" after each description is my rating how good they are with ++++ being the highest. The criteria are obviousness of the asterism, brightness and uniqueness.

 

NGC 0225 This 16-minute wide double arc of stars reminds me of an igloo, though sometimes it also strikes me as a cursive "W". I suspect the cause is differences in sky clarity revealing or hiding the weakest stars. ++

 

NGC 0457 (M103) I see a 16-minute long bird flying toward a tiny cluster of stars. The two stars near the bottom mark the feet and are noticeably brighter. +++

 

NGC 0663 I see a winged horse flying to the left. This asterism is small and best viewed at 90X. +

 

NGC 1528 A straw hat 17-minutes across. ++

 

NGC 1664 An octopus or squid measuring 12 x 8 minutes. ++

 

NGC 1746 This one's tough unless you're knowledgeable about kites. Although this sketch doesn't show it, in the eyepiece it looks very clearly like a double Eddy kite, a variation of the classic 2-crossed-sticks kite with two parallel vertical spars instead of the usual one. Ignore the cluster of four small stars near the bottom and focus on the two parallel curves of three stars near the top. These mark the tops of the backward bent vertical spars. The four horizontal stars across the middle are the bowed horizontal spar. +++

 

NGC 1778 A 7-minute long snow sled. ++

 

NGC 1807 A thin, 10-minute long rocket ship. The two stars marking the tips of the fins are the brightest in this asterism. ++

 

NGC 1912 (M38) A fat rocket ship. ++

 

NGC 1960 (M36) Very clearly looks like a dragonfly with two antenna (okay, so dragonflies really don't have antenna... work with me on this.) pointing up and the left wing has the lower tip clipped off. +++

 

NGC 1981 At 30-minutes tall this is one of the larger asterisms I found. It reminds me of a radio telescope with its disk looking to the upper left. ++

 

NGC 2099 (M37) Hard to see in this sketch, this 12-minute long cluster always reminds me of a long skull. ++

 

NGC 2232 I almost didn't post this asterism because I didn't want to offend certain people's sensitivities. It's a 25-minute long phallic symbol. I'm not trying to be cute or offensive. The shape is obvious. +

 

NGC 2244 Not obvious from this sketch, every time I look at this cluster and the adjacent stars that create this 30-minute tall asterism I see a Martian sitting in a lotus position with his head in the process of exploding. (Perhaps this says something about my imagination.) ++++

 

NGC 2251 This 6-minute long collection of stars look like a millet spray in the eyepiece. +

 

NGC 2264 A 20-minute tall Christmas tree. ++

 

NGC 2264 A 6-minute long cone or wedge. Two stars in the upper left corner are notably brighter than the others. +

 

NGC 2287 (M41) A 30-minute tall tree. ++

NGC 2422 (M47) I see this asterism as a box on a stick. +

 

NGC 2439 always looks like a bug with its head pointed downward to me. It's small, only 6-minutes long. The star at the bottom where his head should be is brighter than the rest. +

 

NGC 2447 Sergeant's stripes. +

 

NGC 2477 A 15-minute tall hay stack. +

 

NGC 2509 A 12-minute long jelly fish. ++

 

NGC 2527 A wedge or steer skull. +

 

NGC 2546 I don't see it anymore but my notes tell me this looked like a buffalo. ++

 

NGC 2548 (M48) A 30-minute long bullet, or at least the slug from a bullet. +++

 

NGC 2567 At 4-minutes long the smallest asterism on the list. I reminds me of a tiny scout ship or spaceship. The star near the bottom is brighter than the others and looks like an exhaust jet. +

 

NGC 2632 (M44) Open wide... I see a dentist's chair. (Maybe you'd prefer a barber's chair.) +++

 

NGC 2671 A dragon's head. ++

 

NGC 2682 (M67) This 12-minute across asterism makes me think of two colliding crescents or boomerangs. +++

 

NGC 6124 Two stacked saucers 20-minutes in diameter. +

 

NGC 6231 This 60-minute tall anchor is the largest asterism in the list. ++++

 

NGC 6281 A 6-minute tall bag or purse full of stardust. Small but good. +++

 

NGC 6400 An 8-minute long dart. ++

 

NGC 6405 (M6) This always makes me think of a 25-minute wide butterfly. ++++

 

NGC 6416 This 25-minute ring of brighter stars filled with a dusting of fainter stars looks like a portal (dare I say stargate?) ++

 


NGC 6425 A diamond 10-minutes across. +

 


NGC 6494 (M23) Three plates stacked upside down. +

 

 

NGC 6611 A 12-minute tall candle in an old fashioned holder. +

 

NGC 6633 One of my favorites. A 30-minute tall sea otter reaching for a ball. ++++

 


NGC 6664 A 12-minute tall teacup with a little tea still in it. +++

 


 

NGC 6704 A 40-minute diameter bull's eye. The small grouping of stars in the middle is 5-minutes in diameter. +

 

NGC 6709 A 15-minute tall bull's head. ++

 

NGC 6716 A 7-minute wide double "V" of geese. +

 

NGC 6774 A 30-minute tall "X". +

 

NGC 6811 Four spots arranged in a very neat 10-minute square. +

 

NGC 6871 While not obvious in this sketch, it looks like the United States, less Alaska and Hawaii. +

 

NGC 6885 Through the eyepiece this looks like an upside down ice cream cone that's 18-minutes tall. +

 

NGC 6913 A small butterfly. ++

 

NGC 7082 A 30-minute long club. +

 

NGC 7086 An 8-minute tall flying wing. +

 

NGC 7654 A small crab or bug jumping off a rock. +

 

H1 A 17-minute tall cone. +

 

H18 A 10-minute tall top. +

 

I4725 (M25) A wind blown scarecrow. ++

 

I4996 A miniature version of the Hercules constellation. +

 

TR33 An upside down martini glass 5-minutes tall. +

 

Unknown 1 A small garden spade located at 1927n30.0 +

 

Unknown 2 An 8-minute tall inverted "V" that looks like a small Christmas tree. Located at 1925n20.0. +

 

Unknown 3 A 25-minute tall garden dibble located at 1240n11.4. Near M104. ++

 

Unknown 4 A box with one side filled with delicate stardust. Located at 0658n12.5. +

 

Uplan A small B-2 bomber located at 1235n36.5. +

 

 
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