Unistellar Citizen Astronomers are invited to participate in this week’s quest to observe the Christmas Tree Cluster.
Enjoy this festive star cluster, which is home to a stellar nursery!
- The Christmas Tree Cluster is an open star cluster, meaning that the stars within the cluster formed together and are loosely bound by gravity.
- The cluster is home to more than 600 very young stars. Some of these stars very massive: 20 or more times as massive as our Sun!
- This cluster and the Cone Nebula are part of the larger NGC 2264, which identifies both deep sky objects under one entry in the New General Catalogue.
- The formation surrounding the Christmas Tree Cluster also contains dust clouds where new stars are being born!
- Located about 2,600 light years away, in the Orion Arm of our Milky Way Galaxy
- It can be found within the constellation Monoceros
- The constellation Monoceros is home to a number of well-known stars and deep sky objects, including one of the most massive binary stars, the Heart-Shaped Cluster (M50), and the Rosette Nebula (C49).
- Monoceros means “unicorn” in Latin, and literally “only one” or “single horn” in Greek.
- It was discovered by astronomer and composer, William Herschel in 1784.
- The cluster got its name for its triangular shape. In visible light, it appears as a tree, with its apex located at the Cone Nebula.
Tips for Observing:
- Search for “Christmas Tree Cluster” in the Explore tab of the Unistellar app.
- You may want to leave the Enhanced Vision mode on for at least a few minutes in order to get a good image of this star cluster.
- Recommended Bortle Class is 6 or lower to see this cluster well.
eVscope image captured by Unistellar Citizen Astronomer Gerd Waloszek, from Germany.
Please send us your images of the Christmas Tree Cluster and let us know if we can share them! We also encourage you to share your images and join the conversation through our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages using the hashtag #UnistellarChallenge.
Clear skies! 🔭