FUZZY SPOT,  February 2002, Canis Major

Canis Major is a prominent winter constellation sitting on the Milky Way.  As such, it contains many open clusters, typical of the winter Milky Way, and a few nebulae.  It also contains the brightest star in the sky other than the sun, Sirius, which is unmistakable.  Sirius has as its companion a white dwarf, Sirius B.  I have tried numerous times to try to split this double, but have been unsuccessful to this point.

Canis Major is the hunting companion of Orion.  With a little imagination, you can make out the stick figure of this dog in the sky.  As an interesting note, the phrase "dog days of summer" came about when ancient people thought that the sun paired in the sky with the dog star, Sirius, caused the extra heat.

        NGC 2204 (06 15.7 -18 39)  This open cluster, although one of the Herschell 400 objects, was not at all obvious in the 10" scope.  About 10-11 stars over some haze was seen with the star pattern around cluster forming a cross shape.

        NGC 2207 (06 16.5 -21 22)  There are actually several decent galaxies visible in Canis Major.  For example, this one was seen in the 20" scope as pretty bright, pretty large, and elongated NW/SE. The glow is fairly even with a slight brightening towards the middle.  There is something weird going on in the middle, either 2 nuclei, or a nucleus with a star slightly to the west.  On the SE end of the galaxy, there is a brighter spot, which is actually a small interacting galaxy.

        NGC 2287 (06 47.0 -20 44)  M-41 is one of the two star objects in Canis Major (in my opinion).  At 70X in the 10" scope, it is fairly large, very bright, somewhat rich, and somewhat loose.  There are 4 levels of stars with about 125 stars counted.  Many of the stars are grouped in real nice strings and arcs.  This cluster is visible as a hazy spot naked eye, and somewhat resolved in the finder scope or binoculars.  Just because this is a big bright cluster, don't pass it over with a large scope.  In the 20" scope at 60X, it fills the whole field of view.  I counted about 200 stars in this scope, and noted 2 or 3 bright stars that are on the yellow side.

        NGC 2345 (07 08.3 -13 10)  I like this open cluster, if for no other reason, because it has an NGC number that I can remember.  Besides that, I saw it as somewhat big, pretty bright, and elongated N/S.  There are 3 levels of stars with 25 stars counted.  At the N end is a tight group of stars, using averted vision really brings it out.  On the S end is a real nice double star.

        NGC 2359 (07 17.8 -13 13)  This is one of the nebula in Canis Major.  At 50x with UHC filter, it is somewhat bright and pretty large,.  The brightest part is around a grouping of 6 stars.  The nebulosity fades away to the S where it abruptly ends at a star, but turns WSW there.  To the N is some fainter nebulosity, but not very well defined.  This is a very nice nebula well deserving of a Best of the NGC entry.

        NGC 2360 (07 17.8 -15 37)  This open cluster is somewhat large, pretty bright, very rich, and somewhat condensed.  There is 1 prominent bright star and 4 levels of stars with about 90 stars counted in the 10" scope.  Many of the stars form straight line groupings.  The overall shape is sort of maple leaf pointing to the E.  To WNW is a very prominent star just out of the field of view.

        NGC 2362 (07 18.8 -24 57)  This last object is the other star attraction in Canis Major.  It is one of the first non-messier objects I ever observed.  With it centered on Tau Canis Major, it is very easy to find.  In the 10" scope, it is a very bright triangular shaped cluster, with about 30 stars counted.  There is somewhat of a void immediately around Tau.  An interesting optical illusion can be seen on this cluster.  Tap the scope slightly, and Tau seems to wiggle in a direction opposite of the other cluster stars.  While you are here, go about 2 degrees to the N (at 07 17 -23 19) and you will find a very nice bright double star.  They are equal in magnitude, with a very strong contrasting yellow and bluish color.

Herschel 400 Objects
2204, 2354, 2360, 2362
SAC’s 110 Best of the NGC Objects