Messier 34 (LRGB)

And now for something completely different. This is Messier 34, an open cluster in Perseus. This isn’t as flashy as many other astrophotography targets. But it still has beauty and compels interest. Open clusters are places where a group of young stars have formed and are still gravitationally bound together in a group. Open clusters tend to have a lot of hot, young, blue stars and this one is no exception.

This image has some “bonus” content. It you look at the full sized version you can see several distant galaxies lurking in the background. They aren’t the subject of the image but they serve as a reminder that even when looking at the local neighborhood of stars the distant universe is there reminding of of its existence if we take the time to look.

This cluster is about 1,500 light years away and the cluster itself is about 7,500 light years across. It’s not visible to the unaided eye except for those with very acute vision and in very dark skies but it is an easy binocular target. It probably looks best in binoculars or small, wide field telescopes where the cluster stand out from the background stars. I tried to approximate that view here.

This is 16.5 hours of LRGB data. For all the technical details see astrobin.

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