The Giraffe is an inconspicuous and almost completely unknown constellation, which was introduced at the beginning of the 17th century. The Latin name Camelopardalis is made up of camel and leopard. Although the brightest star of the Giraffe shines only at 4.3m, the constellation contains some interesting deep-sky objects.
The 6.9m bright NGC 1502 is not easy to find because there are only a few brighter stars in its vicinity for orientation. A smaller binocular shows four stars of eighth magnitude in this only eight minutes of arc large open star cluster, the other stars blur to a shimmer. You need giant binoculars to see a bit more. 3,750 light-years separate us from this small group that can be seen with the naked eye as a small patch of light – at least under very good conditions.
NGC 2403 is a 10 million light-years distant barred spiral galaxy that is part of the same group of galaxies as the pair of galaxies M 81 and M 82 in Ursa Maior. It is separated from M 81 and M82 by only three million light-years. You can find them in a pair of 10 × 50 binoculars as an 8.4m bright, elongated light spot 5° north of ο Ursae Majoris. With 12 × 23 arcmin NGC 2403 is quite large and has a low surface brightness – therefore averted vision facilitates the observation. It is about half as luminous as our own Milky Way. NGC 2403 is a relatively young galaxy, which still contains many gaseous nebulae and bright young stars. In 1960, it was the first galaxy outside of the Local Group, where the first individual Cepheid stars could be observed – this made a distance determination possible.
Although Collinder 464 is a very loose open cluster, the approximately rectangular group raises well from the star-poor background. It is 1 × 2° large and contains about 50 stars. Its brightest members are visible to the naked eye. We still don‘t know for sure whether it really is an open cluster or just a star-rich region of the Milky Way.
Stock 23 is a loose open cluster near the plane of the Milky Way. Approximately six of its 25 brighter stars should be clearly visible in binoculars without problems. You will find it easiest if you turn from Algol (α Persei) 10° to the northwest. The cluster is located at the end of an about 2.5° long chain of stars eighth size, which is also known as Kemble’s Cascade. It was named by Walter Scott Houston to honor the Canadian amateur astronomer Lucien J. Kemble.
Harrington 3 is a nearly straight chain of stars between 7 and 8m with a 5.0m bright star in the middle. It ends in NGC 1502 and extends over more than 2° from northwest to southeast. This chain is an asterism – a nice, but random arrangement of stars.