FUZZY SPOT, March 1997, Monocerous

Monoceros lies in an area of the sky roughly bordered by Orion, Canis Major, and Canis minor.  I used to have problems with the name until I discovered that it rhymed with rhinoceros, and with the Moneceros meaning the unicorn, it made sense.  Although there are no bright stars in this constellation, the area is filled with numerous deep sky objects.  One of the toughest parts about finding the objects is finding the appropriate naked eye star to start a star hop.  However, take the time, the results are well worth the effort.
All these observations were taken with my 10” f4.5 scope at Buckeye Hills on a night I rated 8/10 for seeing and 6/10 for transparency.

        NGC 2215 (06 21.0 -07 17)  At 70x, I saw this cluster as pretty big, somewhat bright, not very rich or condensed.  There were 2 levels of stars with a star count of about 25 stars.  The cluster is triangular or arrow head in shape pointing to the E.

        NGC 2232 (06 26.6 -04 45)  This is a confusing cluster, I saw about 20 stars including a bright central star, very bright, very large, pretty poor and not at all condensed.  The brightest stars form a V shape pointing to the N.  It is hard to tell what is the cluster as there are some other groups in the area, however this group is the most obvious and is at the location indicated in Uranometeria 2000.  Also with the background so rich, it is hard to tell where the cluster ends.

        NGC 2244 (06 32.4 +04 52), also NGC 2237, 2238, 2239, and 2246.  This group of clusters and nebulae is the rosette nebula,  2244 and 2239 being the cluster and 2237, 2238, and 2246 being the nebula.  Use low power when looking at this object.  At 35x I saw the cluster as pretty bright, very large, very loose, not at all rich, with 15 stars in 3 levels, including a fairly bright yellow star.  I also observed a starless area to the W of the cluster.  This was the only indication I had of the nebula without the filter.  However, when I used the UHC filter, the nebula really jumped out.  The starless area to the W of the cluster is the largest area, grey without any detail.  To the E and SE the nebula is smaller, but much more detailed including many dark areas. This is definitely one of the beauties in Monoceros.

        NGC 2251 (06 34.7 +08 22)  This cluster is split into 3 groups with the whole cluster elongated  E/W.  I saw about 20 stars in 2 levels, somewhat bright, somewhat large, poor, not condensed.  Not much of a cluster here, but the elongation and groupings are unusual for an open cluster.

        NGC 2261 (06 39.2 +08 44)  This is Hubbell’s Variable Nebula.  At 140x, I saw this as pretty small, pretty bright, fan shaped with the head on the south end.  This very much looks like a small comet with a wide tail.  The star at the head comes and goes, and averted vision helps extend the tail.  This is a very unusual object, hard to describe, and quite a beauty.

        NGC 2264 (06 41.1 +09 53)  This is an open cluster contained in a very large field of nebulosity, including the cone nebula (which I was unable to observe).  I saw the cluster as extremely large, very bright, very poor, not at all condensed.  The stars form a rough shape of a Christmas tree with a bright star on the N forming the trunk and a double star on the S forming the top.  According to pictures and maps, the cone would point down to the top of the tree.  Some nebulosity was seen around the W end near the base, and possibly around the base star.  Using the UHC filter did not seem to enhance the nebulosity at all.

        NGC 2301 (06 51.8 +00 28)  This cluster is one of my favorites in Monoceros.  I saw this as very large, pretty bright, somewhat compressed, a little rich, with a very nice yellow/blue double star in the middle. About 50 stars were seen in 4 levels, with stars radiating out from the center forming sort of an X.  This was a perfect object to end the evening.

        NGC 2324 (07 04.2 +01 03)  At 100x, I saw this cluster as somewhat faint, pretty large, very rich, and very compressed.  3 levels of stars were noted over a very granular haze, with about 30 counted and many more suspected with averted vision.  I estimated that if I really studied this cluster or used a larger telescope, I would count about 100 stars.

Herschel 400 Objects
2185, 2215, 2232, 2244, 2251, 2264, 2286, 2301, 2311, 2324, 2335, 2343, 2353, 2506
SAC’s 110 Best of the NGC Objects
2244, 2261