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By O'Meara S.J.

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In the 4-inch at 23x the star and nebula are quite distinct, looking like a lamp seen through a window moist with breath. With direct vision the nebula measures a few arc-minutes in diameter and looks irregularly round. Under averted vision, however, the nebula swells magnificently to a diameter of 10'. A quick glance out of the corner of one's eye makes the nebula look like a chiffon skirt suddenly puffed out by a gust of wind. ) By the way, estimating the nebula's brightness required some mental gymnastics, namely psychologically removing the 7th-magnitude star from view to concentrate solely on the glow emanating from the nebula.

Massive binary stars within a cluster can cast out solitary members passing near them. Stars grazing a cluster's outskirts can free members from the cluster's weak gravitational grip. And open clusters are subjected to the tidal shear of our galaxy, which is constantly working against the gravitational forces that hold the clusters together. Over the next few billion years we can expect NGC 188's stars to slowly drift apart, each following a random path into space, until the cluster fully dissipates and its constituents become part of the scintillating backdrop of the night sky.

Most noteworthy is a bar of light (oriented roughly north-south) that slices through HD 200775. The ends of the bar curve away in opposite directions, so the material there seems to fan out like the spray from a twopronged lawn sprinkler. Another weaker streamer jets off the star to the north-northwest. The full glory of 28 this object is revealed at higher powers and with averted vision. At 189x HD 200775 looks like a topaz stone that has been hastily woven into a spider's gossamer web. The nebula's densest regions (the spiral-like arms) have a feathery quality to them, while the remainder of the cloud has a stringy texture reminiscent of the fibers in high-quality paper.

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