Tuesday, 9 February 2016

NGC1647, another lovely cluster in Taurus

If you've got a nice pair of binoculars, nothing's more pleasing than surfing the sky with it, in search for one of the thousands of jewel boxes up there. This particular star cluster close to Aldebaran, the orange eye of the bull, doesn't appear particularly rich. Estimates suggest that it doesn't contain more than 200 stars and not even half of them are visible to us. The problem is that the cluster lies partially behind a dark dustcloud which seriously impairs our vision of it. And yet it's a real beauty with its large number of cute double stars which fill the centre of the field of view. 

Sky conditions weren't ideal when I made this sketch but still I think that I got most of the stars that are possibly visible with my Nexus 100 astronomical binoculars. The cluster lies at almost 1.700 lightyears in our arm of our galaxy. It definitely deserves a bit more attention since it's such an easy and noteworthy object. About thirty of its stars are brighter than the 11th magnitude, so it's within reach of even the smallest telescopes or binoculars.  

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