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Kemble’s Kite

Kemble 3, Kite Cluster

Constellation FamilyPerseus
Celestial QuadrantNQ1
Right Ascension30h25 to 03h34
Declination+71.2° to +73.2°
Area (sq deg)0.2
Brightest StarV805 Cassiopeiae
Optimum VisibilityNovember / December (Usually visible from northern latitudes)
NotesThere is some disagreement over the location of Kemble's Kite, with different sources identifying at least three different asterisms by the same name. The group of stars discussed here appears to be the one originally identified by Kemble, and is certainly the most Kite-like of the various options, but its identity is not absolutely certain. See the note at the base of this page for further discussion on this point.

A grouping of stars with a shape reminiscent of a kite with a trailing tail of stars, lying in the northeastern parts of Cassiopeia close to that constellation's border with Camelopardalis. This is one of several small asterisms noted by Father Lucian Kemble, and so it takes his name as Kemble's Kite or Kemble 3. This grouping of stars is also sometimes referred to as the Kite Cluster, though it is not in fact a true star cluster, and its stars are widely separated from one another.

Imagery provided by Aladin sky atlas

From the top of the Kite to the end of its tail measures an angular length of 1° 20' (nearly three times the apparent diameter of the Moon in the sky), but the asterism is too faint to be detected with the naked eye. The brightest of its stars is the red giant V805 Cassiopeiae, a thousand light years from the Sun, which shines at sixth magnitude. Most of the other stars that make up the asterism have a faint apparent magnitude close to +8.0, and vary widely in their characteristics as well as their physical locations in space.

There is in fact a certain amount of confusion over the identity and location of Kemble's Kite. Some sources use the name to refer to a different and less conventionally kite-shaped grouping farther westward across Cassiopeia, while other sources place the Kite in Camelopardalis. The shape described here, centred at approximately 3h29 +71°50', is the more distinctly kite-shaped of these different candidates, and appears to be the asterism originally identified by Kemble himself.


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