Saturday, February 19, 2011

NGC 2169 and Some New Toys

How many stars are in open cluster NGC 2169? Well, according to 14 of them, the answer is 37!

This small cluster of about 30 (probably not really 37) stars lies about 3,600 light years away in the constellation Orion and can be seen through a small telescope. The unusual arrangement of these stars is simply by chance, of course.

NGC 2169, ST80 on Vixen SP, 16x60
Groups of stars that form familiar patterns and shapes, like the "37" in NGC 2169, are called asterisms. Asterisms are not constellations. They may be composed of stars from one or more constellations. Other well-known asterisms include the Big Dipper, the Little Dipper, the Teapot, and the Coathanger.

I recently acquired an AccuFocus electronic focuser and an Orion SkyGlow Astrophotography Filter for my setup. This will make focusing much easier since I no longer have to touch the telescope to adjust it. The filter will come in handy by removing most of the light pollution "noise" that I get from the light domes of Huntsville and Houston.  The image above is the result of my first attempt at using the new equipment.