Stargate Star Cluster

STF 1659

There is a star cluster in Corvus (near the Virgo boarder) called Stargate.

It is more formally known as STF 1659.

It is a set of six stars that form a nested set of equilateral triangles.

    RA:   12h 35' 59"
    Dec: -12d 03' 09"

The chart to the right is reproduced from the May 1998 issue Sky and Telescope. It is featured in an article by Philip Harrington called "My Favorite Asterisms".

Click here or on the image at the left to view a stunning image of the Stargate Star Cluster from the Digitalized Sky Survey (DSS). 

It is a 60 minute exposure imaged from the Oschin Schmidt telescope on Palomar Mountain. 

It was taken with a red filter for the second sky survey in the mid 1980s.

The 48-inch Schmidt telescope (Oschin telescope) at the Palomar Observatory.

Palomar Sky Survey

Image Database

Palomar Observatory

The Telescope

F0 type star

temp: 7020 K
color: E0E5FF

G0 type star

temp: 5930 K
Color: FFF8F8

G5 type star

temp: 5680 K
Color: FFF4F8

The Tycho and Hipparcos Catalgues

The Washington Double Star Catalog

Color and temperature information. Our sun is a G2 type star
Also, thanks to Jim Jones, a Rose City double star observer his help
STF 1659 Tycho Hipparcos Magnitude Distance Spectral
component id id light years type
A 5530-02065-1 61466 7.92 354 G0
B 5530-02062-1 61465 8.34 285 -
C 5531-01564-1 - 11.46 - -
D 5531-01190-1 - 9.91 - -
E 5530-02063-1 61449 6.69 486 G5
F 5531-01561-1 61486 6.61 402 F0
  • Canon 15x50 stabilized binoculars: Components A, B, and C (inner triangle) are unresolved and appear as a single star. These center stars together with E and F make a flattened triangle. Careful viewing will show D.
  • Meade ETX-90 (15mm eye piece giving 83x): The outer triangle D, E, and F is easy to spot. A and B in the inner triangle are nicely resolved. C is visible with careful viewing. (4-24-004 at Roster Rock State Park, OR)

image credit

Friedrich Georg Wilhelm Struve (1793-1864)

The STF from STF1659 refers to double stars cataloged by F. G. W. Struve. He catalogued the star pairs AB, AC, and BC of STF1659 in 1832. Four more pairs (AD, AE, AF, and EF) where catalogued after his death in 1870. An additional pair (Ea) was cataloged in 1909. This last companion star is magnitude 15.5 and  it is not in the Tycho or Hipparcos catalogues. 

There is a good chance that several of the components in STF1659 are optical doubles. These are stars that are nearly in the same line of sight but are separated by great distances. Distance information put several of the components light years apart. However, it is not clear how accurate this information is and in particular the relationship of C to A and B. There is a chance these stars are part of the same physical system.

Struve is the first of four generations of eminent astronomers, born in Altona, N Germany. He became professor of astronomy at Dorpat and  director of the Dorpat observatory where he studied double stars. His work on doubles followed in the foot steps (and eclipsed) the work of  J. Herschel and Sir James South. Struve published a catalogue of 2714 accurately measured doubles between 1824 and 1837. In addition, carried out one of the first determinations of stellar distance using parallax. More detail can be found here.


John Wagoner

While John Wagoner was working on his Messier Certificate, he bumped into this grouping of stars while on the way to M-104. It reminded him of the Stargate used by Buck Rogers and friends to enter hyperspace. So he named it Stargate.

Wagoner says, "I named this asterism 30 years ago while observing at the Texas Star Party and the name stuck. ... Many people think this is named after the movie. Wrong." He named it well before the movie came out. "It is a triangle within a triangle which makes it so unusual. But the star at the apex of the inner triangle is dimming because it is a long period variable, which is screwing up the whole thing. Damn universe changes." (Personal email John Wagoner.)

Wagoner is former president and founder of The American Association of Amateur Astronomers (AAAA). He is currently the president of the City Lights Astronomical Society for Students (CLASS). He has been actively involved with the SWRAL's Texas Star Party, the Astronomical League, and served for eighteen years on the board of directors for the Texas Astronomical Society of Dallas.

See: City Light and Astronomical Society for Students (CLASS) and CLASS

Buck Rogers Timeline


Elias Huer pilots the first ship through a Stargate. The short trip takes him across Earth's solar system. His mission a success, a system of Stargate's is developed to link trading planets throughout the Earth Federation and beyond.


Buck and Wilma travel together on a Recon mission to a destination near Stargate 4. This is one of Buck's first trips through at space warp. ("Planet of the Slave Girls")


Image and information from