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NGC 1039 (1,908 of 18,816)


oc gc pln bn dn gx gxcl ast aka lost




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Spiral Cluster

NGC 1039, Cl Collinder 31, C 0238+425, Ocl 382, COCD 36, Messier 34, Spiral Cluster, h 248, GC 584

RA: 02h 42m 5s
Dec: +42° 45′ 0″

Con: Perseus
Ch: MSA:100, U2:62, SA:4

Ref: SIMBAD, Collinder (1931), DAML02, Archinal&Hynes (2003), Skiff20080430-s

(reference key)

Type: open cluster, 23r

Mag: B=5.37, V=5.2

Size: 35′
PA: ?

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In 1774, Bode found M34 a naked eye object under good conditions. Webb called it "a very grand low power field; one of the finest objects in its class. Admiral Smythe described it as "a scattered but elegant group... 8-13 mag on a dark ground; several of them form coarse pairs."

Historical observations

Messier, Charles

A bright open cluster discovered by Charles Messier in August 1764. He described it as: "a cluster of small stars a little below the parallel of Gamma Andromedae; in an ordinary telescope of 3 feet one can distinguish the stars... diameter 15'"

William Herschel

In the Philosophical Transactions, 1818, William Herschel wrote: "1799, 7 feet finder. It is visible. 1783, 1794, 7 feet telescope, a cluster of stars, with 120 I think it is accompanied with mottled light, like stars at a distance. 1784, 1786, 20 feet telesscope. a coarse cluster of large stars of different sizes."

Published comments

Doig, P. (1925)

Doig, P. (1925) Notes on the nebulae and clusters in Webb's 'Celestial Objects for Common Telescopes' (Sixth edition, Vol.ii). Part IV. M.N.R.A.S., 36(2), 58.

Melotte, P.J. (1915)

A catalogue of star clusters shown on Franklin-Adams chart plates. Mem.R.A.S., 60(5), 175-186.

Raab, S. (1922)

Raab, S. (1922) A research on open clusters. Lund Medd. Astron. Obs. Ser. II, 28, 1.

Discussed, based of F-A plates.

Bailey, S.I. (1908)

"cluster; coarse."

Bailey, S.I. (1908) A catalogue of bright stars and nebulae. Ann.Harv.Coll.Obs., 60(8), 199.

Doig, P. (1926)

Doig, P. (1926) "A Catalogue of Estimated Parallaxes of 112 Nebulae, Open clusters and Star Groups", Vol 36 (4), p 107-115. "irregular but well defined, with few faint stars." He gives the approx. diameter as 36 arcmin.

Trumpler, R.J. (1928)

Trumpler (Lick Obs Bulletin, Vol 14, No. 420) gives the diameter as 30' and the class as I 3 m.

Sulentic & Tifft (1973)

The RNGC (Sulentic and Tifft 1973) notes that this is a 6.0 mag open cluster.

Burnham's Celestial Handbook

Burnham states that the central knot of bright stars measures about 9' across, and that the easy double h1123 lies within this core (to the North-West). He records it as a fixed white pair with a separation of 20" and magnitudes of 8.0

Modern observations

Walter Scott Houston

Houston calls this a rather sparse cluster, "not more spectacular in large telescopes, as it does not seem to have the needed fainter stars to buttress the view. Rather I feel that 15x65 binoculars give the best impression."

Harrington, Phil

Harrington calls this a "wonderful cluster for telescopes and binoculars alike. Visible to the naked eye on exceptional nights as a faint smudge .. M34 explodes into stardust when seen with only the slightest optical aid. A look through most finderscopes will reveal individual cluster members set against a nebulous backdrop of unresolved stars. To me the group looks decidedly rectangular, while some observers comment about strings of stars. In The Universe From Your Backyard, David Eicher notes three 'arms' of stars extending away from the cluster's centre. Two binary stars highlight the view. Almost centred in M34 is the double h1123, a pair of 8th mag whitish stars separated by 20 arcseconds. The second stellar duet, Otto Struve 44, is a close pair of white stars only 1.4 arcseconds apart. Look for them a little southeast of centre."

Raasch, Rick (1993)

Rick Raasch writes in "The Focal Point", Volume 6, No. 2 (1993) "M34 This is a fine open cluster, easily seen in binoculars as somewhat box shaped, with many bright stars resolved. Through a telescope, it is almost 40' in diameter, made up of primarily bright and some relatively faint stars, and has a coarse appearance."

Steve Gottlieb

02 42.0 +42 47 13: about 100 stars in a 30' diameter. Very bright, very large, many double stars, three main curved lanes. Includes a bright double star h1123 = 8.0/8.0 at 20". Naked-eye object in fairly dark sky.

Gramer, Lew (IAAC)

IAAC: Observer: Lew Gramer Your skills: Intermediate Date and UT of Observation: 1997-11-03/04, 02:50 UT Location: Medford, MA, USA (42N) Site classification: urban Limiting magnitude: 5.1 (zenith), 4.4 (in S) Seeing: 5 of 10 - mediocre Moon up: no Instrument: 8" f/10 SCT, 8x50mm finder Magnification: 80x, 170x, 340x Filters used: None Object: M34 Category: Open cluster Constellation: Per Data: mag 5.2 size 35' RA/DE: 02h42m +42o47m

Description: " The "Spiral Cluster" (from Jeff Bondono, for its shape) was a quick find at the W apex of an equilateral triangle with kappa and beta Per (Algol). This open cluster was readily visible as a brightish, irregular haze in the 8x50 finder, with two medium-bright stars immediately resolved to SE and NNW of center, and 2 or 3 more of various brightnesses then becoming visible with concentration. In the 8" SCT, the OC easily fills the 25mm (80x, 35') field of view, with outliers spilling out as much as a 40' radius to the W and NW, and a few stragglers to SE. At the core are perhaps 40 members in a 20' diameter, with many brighter members (mag 7-9) and perhaps 20 members on the edge of visibility (mag 13-14), but few stars of intermediate brightness. Out to 60' diameter, perhaps 90 total members can be counted, wiht a much more even magnitude distrib- ution and fewer bright stars than the core. Interestingly, many stars near the center of this cluster have a strange tendency to form into similar-magnitude pairs, including pairs of magnitudes 7, 7, 8, 8, and 9. Finally, at PA 60o 25' from center is a pretty contrasting double (mag 7, 9.5; PA 310o; gold and pale violet)."

Tom Lorenzin

Tom Lorenzin, in the electronic version of "1000+ The Amateur Astronomers' Field Guide to Deep Sky Observing", notes: "5.2M; 30' diameter; 80-plus 7M and dimmer members; higher-x shows larger angular diameter by allowing dimmer members to be more readily seen; impressive binocular object!."

Contemporary observations

Auke Slotegraaf


Viewing with a 2" refractor at 20X, the cluster shows as reasonably small, compact and poor, consisting of three prominent stars and five fainter ones arranged in two rows. The overall appearance is of a triangular shape, and this gives the cluster a striking resemblance to NGC 4755, the Jewel Box!

Tom Bryant

2006-11-25 19:30:00

Observing site: Little Tycho Observatory

Telescope: C-8

[2h 42m 0s, 42 47m 0s] Another rich cluster containing many doubles, especially in the center.

Favourite lists

Lacaille's catalogue

The Messier objects

Dunlop's catalogue

The Bennett objects

The Caldwell list

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