AstroPhotography by Dan Richey

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Messier 34 (also known as M 34 or NGC 1039) is an open cluster in the constellation Perseus. It was probably discovered by Giovanni Batista Hodierna before 1654 and included by Charles Messier in his catalog of comet-like objects in 1764. Messier described it as, "A cluster of small stars a little below the parallel of γ (Andromedae). In an ordinary telescope one can distinguish the stars. Based on the distance modulus of 8.38, this cluster is located at a distance of about 470 parsecs, or 1,500 light years. For stars in the range from 0.12 to 1.0 solar masses, M34 contains an estimated 400 members. It spans about 35' on the sky which translates to a true radius of 7 light years.[citation needed. The cluster is just visible to the naked eye in very dark conditions, well away from city lights. It is possible to see it in binoculars when light pollution is limited. The age of this cluster lies between the respective ages of the Pleiades open cluster at 100 million years and the Hyades open cluster at 800 million years. Comparisons between the observed stellar spectra and the values predicted by stellar evolutionary models gives an age estimate of 200–250 million years for M34.

Object Information

Name M34
Type Open Cluster
Constellation Perseus
Catalogue NGC 1039

Acquisition / Processing

Exposure L - 30 x 240 sec Bin 1
RG - 15 x 240 sec (each) Bin 2
B - 15 x 300 sec Bin 2
Total 5.25 Hr
Telescope AP 160 @ f7.7
Camera SBIG STF-8300
Camera Temp -12ºC
Guiding SBIG SG4 / AP 105
Mount AP 900GTO
Processing CCDStack / PS CS5
Location San Pedro Creek, NM
Date October 1, 2013

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