brocchi's cluster aka the Coathanger

Credits: Petr Novak

The coathanger is an asterism made up of 10 stars ranging from 5th to 7th magnitude which form the conspicuous "coathanger", a straight line of 6 stars with a "hook" of 4 stars on the south side. An additional 30 or so fainter stars are sometimes considered to be associated as well.

Under a dark sky, the Coathanger can be seen with the naked eye as an unresolved patch of light; binoculars or a telescope at very low power are usually needed in order to view the "coathanger" asterism. It is best found by slowly sweeping across the Milky Way along an imaginary line from the bright star Altair toward the even brighter star Vega. About one third of the way toward Vega, the Coathanger should be spotted easily against a darker region of the Milky Way. The asterism is best seen in July–August and north of 20° north latitude it is displayed upside down when it is at its highest point. South of this latitude it is shown upright as the 'hanger' is south of the line of 6 stars.

Facts about the Coathanger by Keith Turnecliff

The asterism and its immediate surroundings are a useful gauge for determining the faintest stars visible in a small telescope as there are a wide range of stellar magnitudes within the cluster easily viewed in one small location of the sky.

This star chart represents a view from Long Itchington for mid August at 10pm.
Credits: Image courtesy of Starry Night Pro Plus 8, researched and implemented by Keith Turnecliff.