Monolith149 Daily

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M103 the Christmas Tree Cluster

Last night we visted the Fernbank Observatory. In the course of looking at a very nice open cluster, NGC 457 I believe, in Cassiopeia, I was reminded of one of my favorites there, M103. I always called it the Christmas Tree cluster and enjoyed showing it to folks.

At the site One-Minute Astronomer, Brian Ventrudo describes M103 as

…the last object in Messier’s original catalog (it was later padded to include 6 more objects). It’s also easy to find, about 1 degree northeast of Ruchbah (or delta Cass). At 8,500 light years away, it’s one of the most distant open clusters in Messier’s catalog. In a small scope, the cluster is unmistakably triangular and displays perhaps two dozen stars. The star triple star Struve 131 is the bright star at the north vertex of the cluster; you can easily resolve all three stars in Struve 131 in a scope, even at low power.

Image credit: by Margin Germano at