FUZZY SPOT, January 2002, Auriga

Last year I seemed to focus on many small constellations with few bright or spectacular objects.  This year I am sticking with constellations that have much brighter objects (although there will be a few challenging ones included).  To start with, lets look at Auriga.

Auriga, the Charioteer, has a confusing background.  The ancient Greek and Roman descriptions call it the Charioteer, but have no mention of his chariot.  With the Babylonians, it is the opposite.  The star pattern is referred to as the chariot.

Since this constellation sits on the winter Milky Way, it is full of open clusters.  In particular, the three Messier Objects, M-36, M-37, and M-38, are fantastic in any optics, including binoculars.  Take a look for yourself.  All these observations were taken in my 10" scope.

        NGC 1664 (04 51.1 +43 42)  This open cluster sits in the far western part of the constellation.  It was seen as pretty large, somewhat bright, somewhat poor, and pretty loose.  I saw a few strings of stars, and a single bright star on the ESE side of the object, and most of the other stars in groups of 3 or 4.  Not counting the bright star, I saw two levels of stars with some possible background haze, and counted about 40 stars.  This cluster is so loose, it was hard to tell where the edge of the cluster is.

        NGC 1857 (05 20.2 +39 21)  This open cluster is somewhat small, pretty faint except for a couple of stars, somewhat rich and somewhat condensed.  There is a bright central yellow star which is a close double.  There are four levels of stars with some possible haziness, and a count of 38 starswith more seen when using averted vision.  There is a nice triangle of stars to the N of the cluster.  This cluster and the stars to the N form open cluster Cz 20.

        NGC 1893/IC 410 (05 22.7 +33 24) This is an open cluster (NGC 1893) and nebula (IC 410) combined.  The cluster is somewhat small, somewhat bright, very poor and loose.  There are 35 stars seen, and a little bit of haze.  Using the UHC filter brings out the nebula.  Most of the nebula is around the cluster.  To the W of the cluster, the nebulosity darkens up quickly, on the N and NE it fades away more slowly.  The most prominent area of nebulosity is NW of the cluster.

        NGC 1907 (05 28.0 +35 19)  This open cluster sits on the fringe of M-38 and forms a nice contrasting pair with it.  It is somewhat bright, somewhat small, somewhat rich, and very condensed.  There are 3 levels of stars over some haze with 30 stars counted.  Two bright stars are to the S which are probably not part of the cluster.  Using low power pairs it up nicely with M-38.

        NGC 1912 (05 28.7 +35 50)  M-38 is a somewhat large cluster, pretty bright, rich, and somewhat condensed.  There is a single star in the middle with a void surrounding it, then a good concentration of stars, and finally a looser scattering of stars at the outside.  It is almost like a cluster within a cluster.  There are 4 or 5 levels of stars with 85 stars counted in the concentrated part, and a total of about 175 stars when you include the loose concentration.  The stars roughly form a "K" with the central star at the center of the K.

        NGC 1931 (05 31.4 +34 15)  This is a pretty small and somewhat bright nebula surrounding a triple star.  The nebula does not extend very far from the three stars.  Using averted vision helps a little, but the nebula does not respond to the UHC filter.

        NGC 1960 (05 36.1 +34 08)  This is the second Messier cluster, M-36.  It is very large, very bright, pretty rich, and loose.  There are 3 levels of stars with a real nice double in the middle, a total of about 55 stars.  Some of the stars show some red and blue color.  This is a nice bright cluster with some interesting star strings.

        NGC 2099 (05 52.4 +32 33)  M-37 is the last of the Messier objects in Auriga.  It is the best in Auriga and one of the best in the sky.  It is very large, pretty bright, very condensed, and very rich.  A bright yellow star is in the center.  There are 3 levels of stars with a total star count of about 120, maybe 200 with averted vision.  It forms a triangle pointing E with dark areas making a negative outline of an "A".  This is a real nice cluster whether looking at it from town, at a fair site, or from a real dark site.

        NGC 2126 (06 03.0 +49 54)  This cluster is SW of a bright star, somewhat large, slightly faint, pretty poor, and very loose.  There are 3 levels of stars not including the bright star plus a handful of threshold stars, with a total of about 25 stars.  To the N and NW of the bright star is 3 more stars.

        NGC 2281 (06 49.3 +41 04)  The last open cluster of the month is very bright, somewhat large, somewhat poor, but what is there is fairly condensed.  The  central section contains 4 real bright star, with 2 containing faint companions.  There are several strings radiating from the start, and 3 bright stars bordering the cluster.  There are 3 levels of stars, with a count of 37, 28 of them are in the central concentration.  This is a nice cluster, out away from the Milky Way so the background stars don't swamp the cluster out.

Herschel 400 Objects
1664, 1857, 1907, 1931, 2126, 2281
SAC’s 110 Best of the NGC Objects
1907, 1931