2009 December 4
Explanation: A lovely starfield in the heroic northern constellation Perseus holds this famous pair of open or galactic star clusters, h and Chi Perseii. Also catalogued as NGC 869 (right) and NGC 884, both clusters are about 7,000 light-years away and contain stars much younger and hotter than the Sun. Separated by only a few hundred light-years, the clusters' ages based on their individual stars are similar - evidence that they were likely a product of the same star-forming region. Always a rewarding sight in binoculars, the Double Cluster is even visible to the unaided eye from dark locations. Star colours (and spikes) are enhanced in this beautiful, wide field, telescopic image.
Authors & editors:
Jerry Bonnell (UMCP)
NASA Official: Phillip Newman Specific rights apply.
A service of: ASD at NASA / GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.