The Cone Nebula & the Christmas Tree Cluster (NGC 2264)

Posted by azindarkskies
on Tuesday, December 04, 2012

The Chrismas Tree Cluster and the Cone Nebula were both discovered by William Herschel; he discovered the cluster in 1784, and the nebula in 1785. NGC 2264 is a large, bright cluster easily visible with binoculars. It consists of about 80 stars from 8th magnitude, and spans half a degree. NGC 2264 is embedded in an extensive nebulosity, which may be seen with larger telescopes under clear, dark skies. At the south end of the cluster lies the famous "Cone Nebula", an object that is difficult to detect visually. The cluster spans some 20 light years, and lies about 2,600 light years away. The nebula belongs to a much larger complex, which is currently an active star forming region across and just north of the 4th magnitude star Xi Persei.  This image was taken using a Takahashi FSQ106ED refractor telescope @F/5 and an FLI Microline 16803 CCD camera.  It is a composite of images using Ha, Olll, and Sll narrowband filters and represents 15 hours of integration time.  Off Axis Guiding is provided by a Starlight Xpress Lodestar and an Astrodon MOAG. The mounting is an Astro-Physics Mach 1 GTO.

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