Sunday, January 30, 2011

NGC 2362 (Tau Canis Majoris Cluster)

NGC 2362, also cataloged as Caldwell 64, is a tight open cluster of about 60 stars. At its center, from our point of view, is Tau Canis Majoris, a magnitude 4.4 class O supergiant. Tau Canis Majoris is a multiple star system, consisting of at least three stars, and possibly as many as five. The total mass of the system has been estimated at 40 to 50 solar masses! There is apparently some debate as to whether or not this star is part of NGC 2362, but if it is, then at the cluster's estimated distance Tau Canis Majoris is about 50,000 times more luminous than the Sun.

NGC 2362 is also called the Mexican Jumping Bean Cluster because, supposedly, tapping the telescope while viewing the cluster produces an interest effect due to persistence of vision. I only recently found this out, and have not had the opportunity to try it.

NGC 2362 (Tau Canis Majoris Cluster), ST80 on Vixen SP, 9x60

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