FUZZY SPOT, February 1999, Puppis
Puppis is part of the obsolete constellation Argo Navis, the Celestial Ship. Some one decided that the ship was too large to be manageable, so the ship was dismantled into its components, Carina (the Keel), Vela (the Sails), and Puppis, the Poop Deck. Puppis sits in the Winter Milky Way, and therefore is rich in open clusters. There are 3 Messier clusters here and numerous Herschel 400 clusters. These clusters range from the extremely rich to the pretty obscure. If you are a sketcher, plan on drawing a lot of dots while working this constellation.
NGC 2422 (07h36.6 -14 30) This is one of Messier missing objects, looking at the location identified by Messier as M-47 leads to a blank place in the sky. However if one allows for a sign error, this cluster is the one. Messier wasn't the only one who has an error on this cluster, when I did my observation on it, my tape ran out in my recorder, so all I got was about 80 stars and seen in the finder. Looking at my drawing, it looks like 3 levels of stars, one obvious double, and elongated NE/SW.
NGC 2423 (07h37.1 -13 52) This cluster, near to M-46 and M-47 is very large, very bright, somewhat loose, with the stars all of fairly even magnitude. I estimated there were 100 stars with the middle area somewhat open. There are several nice star chains including one near the middle with a double star at end.
NGC 2437/2438 (07h41.8 -14 49) NGC 2437 is the open cluster M-46 and NGC 2438 is the planetary nebula sitting in front of the cluster. At 70X, the cluster is very large, pretty bright, very rich, and very condensed. There are 3 levels of stars with an estimated count of 150, fairly evenly distributed, and it contains quite a few star chains. The cluster is elongated slightly E/W. The planetary nebula is on the N side of the cluster and is very obvious against M-46. At 140X, it is annular and the central star is suspected.
NGC 2440 (07h41.9 -18 13) If you want a break from open clusters, here is a planetary nebula to go after. It is pretty bright, definitely not stellar, and possibly elongated. I saw somewhat of a blue color, and occasionally suspected annularity. Using averted vision makes it grow somewhat.
NGC 2447 (07h44.6 -23 52) The last of the Messier clusters in Puppis is M-93. At 70X, it is pretty bright, pretty large, very rich, and pretty condensed. 2 bright stars are the prominent identifier of this cluster, other features include a nice trapezoid in the middle with a faint and small triangle to the E of trapezoid. I counted about 60 stars in the central condensation plus an additional 20 or so outliers.
NGC 2477 (07h52.3 -38 33) This open cluster blew me away. My actual description is "One hell of a cluster. Extremely large, very bright, very rich, very everything. Way too many stars to try to count, estimate 300 stars. Fills field of view at 70X, a lot of star chains, a few empty spots. 100X overflows field of view. Somewhat triangular." I decided not to spend the entire night drawing this cluster, so I just drew the triangular shape.
NGC 2509 (08h00.7 -19 04) This nice open cluster was seen as somewhat large, somewhat faint, very rich, and very condensed at 100X. I saw 4 levels of stars with some unresolved haze in the middle. Stars pop out of this haze occasionally. There is a right angle asterism of stars with one leg going through the haze. The longer arm runs E/W and the shorter arm extends S from the W end. To the S, just out of the cluster is a brighter star. I counted about 50 stars and suspected 20 or so more popping out of the haze.
NGC 2539 (08h10.7 -12 50) This very large cluster is pretty bright, somewhat rich, somewhat condensed, and very well resolved. It is elongated about 2:1 WNW/ESE . There are 2 levels of stars with many little arcs and strings of stars, with a total count of about 75 stars. On the S side is a very bright star which is probably not part of the cluster. An interesting phenomenon was noticed in this very spectacular cluster, it disappears when clouds move in front of it!
NGC 2567 (08h18.3 -30 38) The last open cluster of the month is a little faint, somewhat small, somewhat poor, fairly condensed, and elongated E/W 2:1. A beautiful string of 6 stars runs N/S through the middle, and on the W is a nice arc or right angle of 6 stars. There are 2 levels of stars with some possible graininess, and a total star count of 23. Although it is not bright, the two patterns are absolutely phenomenal.
Herschel 400 Objects
2421, 2422, 2423, 2438, 2440, 2479, 2482, 2489, 2509, 2527, 2539, 2567, 2571
SAC's 110 Best of the NGC Objects
2438, 2440, 2539