poetry and prose about place

places off-planet #6 – the ‘Coathanger’ asterism

with 10 comments

Most people have never seen my favourite star grouping, but if you use binoculars and can locate two key stars, I think you could see it too.  It is the ‘Coathanger’ asterism (or group of stars), also known as Collinder 366, Al Sufi’s Cluster, or Brocchi’s Cluster.  It looks like a little upside-down coathanger.  It was first described by the Persian astronomer Al Sufi in 964 AD!

The ‘Coathanger’ is in the constellation Vulpecula in the ‘Summer Triangle’.  To find the ‘Coathanger’, use the binoculars to sweep the Milky Way from the star ‘Altair’ towards the bright star ‘Vega’.   The ‘Coathanger’ is found about one-third of the way from Altair to Vega.

photo is from Wikimedia Commons

original contributor DannyZ



coat hangers, closets and stars 



metal hangers


refuse to cooperate


tangled                    twisted



her closet

built for grace

satin hangers

muffled           plumped      and padded

kind to arthritic hands


pearl buttons to catch

her dresses

before they slip

to the floor



between Altair and Vega

Brocchis’ Coathanger Cluster

also known as Collinder 399

suspends the fabric of sky


with binoculars

this fuzzy patch of light


to ten           splendid           stars


strong little hanger

oversized hook




©  Jane Tims  2011

Written by jane tims

May 26, 2012 at 8:08 am

10 Responses

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  1. Beautiful poetry. I’ll share this post’s information with my Mum as she is a lover of stars and has spent her life studying them. But I’ve never heard her mention this cluster.


    Carol Steel

    May 30, 2012 at 12:36 pm

    • Hi Carol. I am lucky because the roof of our house lines up with the Coathanger… all I have to do is step out my back door on a clear night in July and point my binoculars. Jane


      jane tims

      May 30, 2012 at 3:32 pm

  2. Thanks, Jane for posting these star gazing photos…with poems. If it were not for you I’d still never be able to connect the dots so to speak. About the best I can do is to spot the big dipper…or was it the little dipper??? I’m hopeless at star gazing except to just enjoy the wonder of the night sky and some of the things they are finding out about the universe.


    Merrill Ann Gonzales

    May 26, 2012 at 5:13 pm

    • Hi. Enjoying the sky is the first step toward a lifetime of discoveries. Our feet may be on the ground, but we can also explore the stars! Jane


      jane tims

      May 26, 2012 at 5:29 pm

  3. I like the combination of poem and prose, with very different angles (no pun intended!) on the subject. Nice to find your blog.



    May 26, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    • Hi. I’m glad you found my blog. The poem was fun to write… it began as an exercise to write poetry about fabric, a project our writing group undertook. Jane


      jane tims

      May 26, 2012 at 2:27 pm

  4. Great, interesting stuff, Jane. I used to be ‘into’ astronomy when I was younger, then, for some reason took a course on astrology, which was fascinating but now I appear to have grown out of it.



    May 26, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    • One good thng about looking at the stars, plus or minus a cloudy night, they will always be there to see. Perhaps you’ll rediscover your interest some day. Jane


      jane tims

      May 26, 2012 at 2:22 pm

  5. Lovely poem. And I’ll be looking for the coathanger



    May 26, 2012 at 8:21 am

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