Category Archives: Open Clusters

NGC 2158 – The Open Cluster Behind Messier 35

The open cluster NGC 2158 is one of those things that made me do a “double take” when I got back into astrophotography several years ago. Of course I knew about the open cluster Messier 35 (M35), but when I looked at my first DSLR photo of M35 and spotted that hazy little ball nearby, I thought I found something new, a comet perhaps….not the case.

NGC 2158 is located in the constellation Gemini, southwest of M35. While it looks like they are close together, NGC 2158 is actually around 9,000 light-years behind M35 (11,000 light-years from Earth). It has an apparent magnitude of 8.6.

Tech Specs: The close-up image is composed of 14 x 60 second images at ISO 3,200 with 5 x 15 second darks and 5 x 1/4000 second bias frames using a Meade LX90 12” telescope and Canon 6D camera mounted on a Celestron CGEM-DX mount. Imaging was done on February 26, 2017 from Weatherly, Pennsylvania. The wide-field inset view was taken in 2014 using a Canon 6D and 400mm lens.

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Pleiades Through Light Cloud Cover

I really like doing wide field astrophotography when there are thin, high level clouds, I think it adds a lot of character to photographs. Here is a view of the Pleiades star cluster taken on Christmas, 2016.

Tech Specs: Canon 6D with Canon EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM lens mounted on an iOptron ZEQ25GT mount. Single 60 second exposure, ISO 1600, 70mm, f/2.8. Imaging was done on December 25, 2016 from Weatherly, Pennsylvania.


Central Trapezium of the Orion Nebula

I captured this view of the central region of the Orion Nebula, called the Trapezium Cluster, on the night of December 27, 2016. It is also known as Theta-1 Orionis and is about 1,600 light-years away.

The four brightest stars have been designated A, B, C, and D (see picture). I also managed to see E and F in the grouping.

The Trapezium Cluster is what provides the light for the Orion Nebula (M42) in the constellation Orion. For this image, I was focusing on the central stars only.

Tech Specs: This image is composed of a single two second exposure at ISO 5,000 using a Meade LX90 12” telescope and Canon 6D camera mounted on a Celestron CGEM-DX mount. Imaging was done on December 27, 2016 from Weatherly, Pennsylvania.


Perseus Double Cluster (NGC 869 and NGC 884)

Here is a view of the famous double cluster in the constellation Perseus (between Perseus and Cassiopeia), they are also designate NGC 869 and NGC 884. This is a two panel mosaic, each panel consisting of six minutes exposure time.

I love the colors in these clusters! During January, this double cluster is near the zenith (right overhead) in Northern Latitudes. I find it best to be observed with binoculars or a low power, wide field telescope.

Picture saved with settings embedded.

Tech Specs: Celestron C6-A SCT telescope and Canon 6D camera mounted on a iOptron ZEQ25GT mount. Imaging was done on November 17, 2016 from Weatherly, Pennsylvania.

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Hyades and Pleiades Star Clusters Setting in the West

Here is a view of the Hyades and Pleiades Star Clusters setting over some pine trees in the Western skies.  This view was captured about 4:30 AM local time from my backyard in Weatherly, Pennsylvania on December 6, 2016.

Tech Specs: Canon 6D tripod mounted using a Canon EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM lens, ISO 3200, 10 seconds, f/2.8 and 70mm. Two image panorama. Star filter was used for diffraction spikes.


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