The open star cluster Messier 39 is well placed for observation tonight. A relatively large, sparse cluster, it lies some way from Deneb but can be easily seen with binoculars. Through my finderscope (with an 8x magnification) in October 2007, it appeared as a clump of stars, a little misty, with three or four bright stars forming a line in the center. On one occasion it looked like a boomerang with the line of stars running across the middle.
Through a small telescope at relatively low power (35x) it appeared sparsely scattered with all white or blue-white stars, most quite bright, that gave me the impression of a heart. Even at this magnification it appeared so large that it barely fit within the field of view.
Messier 39 was discovered in 1764 by Charles Messier. Lying at a distance of approximately 800 light years, it is thought to be some 200-300 million years old.
Images courtesy of Mobile Observatory.
02:55 UT – The almost new Moon passes Mars. (Mars: 99% illuminated, magnitude 1.7, diameter 3.7”. Cancer, not visible.)
The globular star cluster M2 culminates at midnight tonight. (Magnitude 6.3. Aquarius, all night.)
The open star cluster M39 culminates at midnight tonight. (Magnitude 5.5. Cygnus, all night. See images above.)
Events in bold involve objects and/or events that are visible with the naked eye.
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