From the August 2005 issue

Phil Harrington’s binocular universe (October 2005)

Now that you've located the objects discussed in the October article, let's go after more dazzling treats in Cygnus the Swan.
By | Published: August 29, 2005 | Last updated on May 18, 2023
Northern Cygnus Star Clouds
Cygnus from right to left (north to south) starts with the emission nebula
Sharpless 119 in the upper right. Next is the bright star Deneb, North American Nebula, and Pelican Nebula. Just below center is the star Gamma Cygnus and its emission nebula IC 1318. On the left is the dark nebula Barnard 144 or LDN 857 (called “Fish on the Platter” by astronomer Bart Bok) which is buried in the rich Cygnus star cloud.
My October binocular universe column features four favorite targets that call Cygnus home, but many more binocular targets hide within the constellation’s borders. Use the October issue of Astronomy‘s all-sky map on page 63 or our online sky chart to help locate these objects. Here are a few other favorites.
M29 (NGC 6913) is an open cluster about 2° south of the star Sadr at the center of the Northern Cross. Through binoculars, M29 looks like a small, rectangular patch of light with two or three faint points peaking out from inside. M29 is a victim of circumstance, however. Studies indicate clouds of opaque interstellar dust litter the entire region. If not for this obscuring material, M29 would be a far more impressive sight.
NGC 6871
You can also spot the open cluster NGC 6871 through even the smallest binoculars as a brighter patch of Milky Way between Gamma (γ) and Eta (η) Cygni. Look for half a dozen stars shining between 7th and 9th magnitude set in an arc and surrounded by the faint glow of other cluster members. In all, some 15 stars down to 12th magnitude populate this swarm.
Northern Coalsack
One of the most famous sights in the far southern sky is a “hole” in the Milky Way called the Coalsack. Lest we northerners feel left out, we have an equivalent dark nebula just south of the star Deneb, although ours is not nearly as pronounced. The Northern Coalsack shows up as an oval, less star-filled section of the Milky Way on dark, moonless nights through low-power, wide-field binoculars. The Northern Coalsack also marks the end of the Great Rift, a lane of dark nebulosity that slices the galactic plane in half lengthwise as it extends southward.
Ruprecht 173
The open cluster Ruprecht 173 is a large, bright, but little-known open cluster about one-quarter of the way from the star Gienah (Epsilon [ε] Cygni) in the Swan’s eastern wing to Sadr, marking the center of its body. Measuring nearly a degree across, Ruprecht 173 holds about two dozen stars brighter than magnitude 9.5, with the four brightest cluster members set in a narrow diamond like asterism. For variable star fans, Ruprecht 173 hosts X Cygni, a well known Cepheid variable. You can follow this star’s brightness fluctuations across its 16-day cycle from a high of 6th magnitude to a low of 7th magnitude.