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Image Details: M034 - The Spiral Cluster

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M034 - The Spiral Cluster

Object/Name: Messier M034 (NGC 1039) Image Details:
Type: Open Cluster Trumpler class II 3 r Luminance IRB:5.00 min. (15) – 75.00 min. 1x1
Constellation: Perseus Red:5.00 min. (12) – 60.00 min. 1x1
RA: 02 hours 42.1 minutes Green:5.00 min. (12) – 60.00 min. 1x1
Dec: +42 degreees 45 minutes Blue:5.00 min. (12) – 60.00 min. 1x1
Distance: 1,450.0 light years Total Time:255 minutes
Magnitude: 5.2 mag   
Size: 25.0 x 25.0 arc minutes   
Imaging Dates: 31 December 2007 - 1 January 2008   
Location: Dark Horse Observatory, Kimberton, PA 19460 U.S.A.   
Telescope: Takahashi BRC-250 Mount: Mountain Instruments
CCD: SBIG ST-10XME Rotator: Optec Pxyis Rotator
Focuser: Finger Lakes Instruments DF2 Filters: Astrodon Series E
Software Used:
  MaximDL v 1.45 FocusMax
The Sky 6 CCDAutoPilot3
CCDStack MiraPro
PS CS3 RC Gradient Xterminator
Kodak GEM noise reduction Noel Carboni’s Photoshop Tools
Detailed Information:

M34 is an open cluster in the constellation of Perseus located not far from the Perseus Double Cluster and the variable “Demon Star”, Algol in Perseus. (See the star chart from MegaStar v5 below; the yellow rectangle is the approximate orientation of my image of M34.) This open cluster is believed to have been first discovered by Giovanni Batista Hodierna before 1654. It was catalogued by Charles Messier in 1764 who described it as

"a cluster of small stars between the head of Medusa and the left foot of Andromeda, a little below the parallel of gamma Andromedae. In an ordinary telescope of 3 foot [focal length] one can distinguish the stars."

Trumpler class II 3 r; This open cluster, M34, is believed to have been first discovered by Giovanni Batista Hodierna before 1654. It was catalogued by Charles Messier in 1764

A finder chart for M034 courtesy of a screen shot from Mega Star v5

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M34 is a naked eye object under dark skies because of its compact size and brightness, unlike M33 which has its surface brightness dispersed over a larger area. There are two stellar arcs visually apparent under low power that gave rise to the name “Spiral Cluster.” Many of the stars are arranged in pairs. The most notable is the optical double h 1123 (cataloged by John Herschel) near the cluster's center (two stars of mag 8.0 to 8.5 of spectral type A0, separated 20" in position angle 248 deg), and Otto Struve 44 near the SE edge (A: 8.4, B: 9.1, separated 1.4" in PA 55 deg) - this double was discovered by Otto Struve in 1840 with a 15-inch refractor.

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