|NGC 2395: Open Star Cluster (Gemini) RA: 07h 27.2m / DEC: +13° 36'.5|
Instrument: 10-inch Starfinder
I call this one the Walking Liberty cluster. The name is too obscure to have any chance of catching on within the larger astronomical community. But that's OK. NGC 2395 isn't what I would describe as a remarkable visual object. I gave this cluster a pet name, not out of any desire to see it get more attention from backyard astronomers, but because it reminded me immediately of something from my past. That something is the Walking Liberty Half Dollar.
Minted in the United States from 1916 to 1947, the Walking Liberty Half Dollar features the flag-draped Liberty carrying branches of laurel and oak toward the rising Sun on one side and an eagle on the reverse. The image of lady Liberty personified the early 20th-century vision of America moving into a promising future. This is one of my favorite coins. When I was an active numismatist (coin collector) a generation ago, a 1943 Walking Liberty Half Dollar was a prize possession.
When I first set eyes on NGC 2395, the cluster immediately reminded of lady Liberty as she appears on that fifty-cent piece. The sketch at left captures the view at 129X in my 10-inch Meade Starfinder Newtonian. The cluster dominates the drawing, which presents the central 20' diameter field presented in the Meade 8.8mm UWA eyepiece.
The neck and torso are represented among the stars at the center of the field. The group of five closely spaced 11th and 12th magnitude stars define the neckline. Two pairs of stars, one 3' to the south and the second about an equal distance to the west, defien the lady's torso. Liberty's outstreached right arm, reaching toward a glorious tomorrow, is traced by a line of six 10th to 12th magnitude stars extending to the south. Two rows of stars reaching westward from the torso outline her legs.
If you are not a coin enthusiast and familiar with the Walking Liberty, you won't see the figure I've described, not with all the averted imagination in the world. But to this fomer coin collector, my first view of NGC 2395 brought back fond memories of an early hobby. While you're in the neighborhood, pay a visit to NGC 2355, just 2.5 degrees west of the Walking Liberty cluster.
Layout, design & revisions © W. D. Ferris
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Revised: December 6, 2002 [WDF]