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Kemble’s Cascade

Kemble 1

Right Ascension3h53 to 4h07
Declination+62° 8' to +63° 39'
Length2° 23'
Brightest StarHR 1204
Optimum VisibilityNovember / December (Usually visible from northern latitudes)
NotesA string of relatively faint stars (the brightest is only fifth magnitude) running in a nearly straight line northwestwards from the open cluster Collinder 45 in Camelopardalis.

A curious phenomenon in the western parts of the faint constellation of Camelopardalis, whereby a grouping of stars are so arranged that they seem to form a nearly straight line as seen from Earth. This string of stars was observed by the amateur astronomer Father Lucian Kemble, and was named for him in 1980. Kemble's Cascade is also sometimes known as 'Kemble 1' to distinguish it from a pair of other asterisms of the northern sky that were also noted by Kemble.

The Cascade contains about twenty stars in total, running from the northwest to the southeast across a distance of more than two degrees of arc. Close to the southern end of the feature, offset slightly to the northward from the line, is the open cluster Collinder 45 or NGC 1502. At least one of the stars of Kemble's Cascade (NGC 1502 DH 17 or TYC 4068-1510-1) is in fact an outlying member of this cluster.

Imagery provided by Aladin sky atlas

The stars that make up Kemble's Cascade are widely different from one another, and widely separated in space. This means that the straight line formation is purely a line-of-sight effect, with the stars happening to fall into this pattern as seen from Earth. Because the member stars are each pursuing their own independent motion through space, the Cascade is a transitory phenomenon, and the current neat line will eventually drift apart.

Only one of the stars in the line is visible to the naked eye, blue HR 1204, which falls near the centre of the formation. This star far outshines all the other members, with even the brightest of the remaining stars reaching only seventh magnitude. The stars are generally distant from the Sun, with most lying more than a thousand light years away, and the most distant (blue HD 24992) falling some 2,600 light years from the Sun. The stars of Kemble's Cascade also represent a wide range of colours and types, ranging from the deep red HD 24065 through oranges and yellows to the blue-white of HR 1204, the brightest member of the Cascade.


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