Star Hopping #9 – Find the Rosette Nebula, the Christmas Tree Cluster, and M35

In this episode of Star Hopping with Kissimmee
Park Observatory, we’ll look at the Gemini region, and show you how to find these beautiful
deep sky objects: The Rosette Nebula
The Christmas Tree Cluster And the Open Cluster M35 Alright, Let’s Go Star Hopping!Hey Hello Hi and welcome to Episode 9 of Star
Hopping with Kissimmee Park Observatory! I’m Dave Hearn, and I’m absolutely elated to be
your host. In this series of programs we’ll show you the most beautiful sights in the
night sky, and explain exactly how to find them with your binoculars or telescope. So we’re not on our spaceship set this week
as we’re coming to you from Key West Florida, while our family prepares for the Thanksgiving
holiday. I hope you like the tropical holiday backdrop here! I wanted to make sure that
we didn’t miss a week of Star Hopping! Well, now we’re back to our standard content
after those two weeks of Star Hopping Extras, where we discussed how to pick out Telescopes
for Beginners. As we’re approaching the holiday season, I know that many parents will be looking
to select a telescope, so if you’re in the market for a new scope, check out those two
videos – you can just click on the thumbnail below to check it out. So during our Extra episodes, the stars have
had some time to rise a bit, and Orion is now halfway up in the sky at around 10:30
PM. We looked at Orion a few weeks ago, but there are a lot of other great areas close
by that need our attention. The constellation of Gemini, with the bright stars Castor and
Pollux, and the dimmer but very rich constellation of Monoceros both have a bunch of great deep
sky objects within their borders. Some people just starting out in observing may not be
aware of Monoceros; it lies between Orion and Gemini, and the Winter Milky Way runs
right through the middle of it. Our first target for this episode is smack
in the middle of Monoceros – the gorgeous Rosette Nebula. This is a large region of
nebulosity and an area of active star birth that lies about 5200 light years away. There
is a bright open star cluster in the center, NGC 2244, which is easily seen with binoculars,
and this will be the target of our star hop. To locate the Rosette Nebula, we will be starting
on the bright star Betelgeuse, in the constellation of Orion. About 8 degrees down from Betelgeuse
is the 4th magnitude star Epsilon Monocerotis. This
is a pretty big move into an area without any bright stars, so make sure you have the
right star before you move. Once you’re on Epsilon, you’re pretty close
to our target. About 2 degrees to the lower left you’ll see a group of about 6 stars in
a rectangular shape. This is NGC 2244, the open cluster at the heart of the Rosette Nebula.
With a wide field eyepiece, you might be able to see some of the brighter structures of
the Rosette. It is very large, measuring 60 by 80 minutes of arc. For a comparison, the
full Moon is 30 arc minutes across, so the Rosette is over twice the size of the full
Moon! Ready to move on to our second target? Appropriate
for the approaching holiday season, we’re going to locate the Christmas Tree Cluster.
This area of star clusters and nebulosity is beautiful in astrophotos, like his one
from KPO. To locate this photogenic grouping, we’ll
be starting from the bright star Pollux in the constellation of Gemini. This first magnitude
star is easy to see with its companion Castor. Pollux is the brighter and lower of these
two beacons. From Pollux, move about 8 degrees to the upper right to find the star Wasat,
(what’s that?) shining at magnitude 3.5. The next hop is to the upper right about 3 degrees,
to the 4th magnitude star Mekbuda. The next hop is a long one, but fairly easy – move
about 8 degrees to the upper right to the bright 2nd magnitude star Alhena. Now we’ll
make a hard right turn, and move about 3 degrees down to the 3rd magnitude star Alzirr, passing
it’s neighborhood companion 30 Geminorium. Now we move to the base of the Christmas Tree,
by slewing 3 degrees to the right, across the border into Monoceros, to the 5th magnitude
star S Monocerotis. In binoculars, you can see a triangular pattern
of stars resembling the shape of a pine tree, with S Monocerotis at its base. This is the
Christmas Tree Cluster, also known as NGC 2264, is a very complex area of young stars
and nebulosity. In astrophotos the famous Cone Nebula can been seen, this feature is
extremely difficult to spy visually, even with filters. This region lies about 2600
light years away, and is a very active star forming region. Ready for our last target? Good, because it’s
M35, which is one of the most famous of open clusters. With only your unaided eyes, you
can find this cluster near the 3 “foot stars” of Gemini under fairly good observing conditions.
M 35 is a splendid sight in a small telescope, best seen in a low power eyepiece. The cluster
contains over 120 stars from 6th to 13th magnitude within a half degree area, about the size
of the full moon, and it contains more than 500 stars in total. To find M35, we’ll start from the bright star
Alhena that we just passed on our way to the Christmas Tree Cluster. From Alhena, move
about 4 degrees to the upper left to the 4th magnitude star Nu Geminorium. Now move in
the same direction about 3 degrees to the 3rd magnitude star Tejat Posterior. Next,
move about 2 degrees up and slightly right to the 3rd magnitude star Propus. During this
move you’ll pass right through IC 443, also known as the Jellyfish Nebula, but it is so
faint you won’t notice it. This is one target I have had my eye on to image at KPO for a
while. Maybe this Winter sometime. The next couple of stars in this hop are fainter.
Move about a degree straight up to 3 Geminorium. You’ll pass 7th magnitude 4 Geminorium on
the way there. We’re getting close now so hang in there.
Move 2 degrees to the left to 6th magnitude 5 Geminorium. Now move about a half degree
upwards and you’ll run into a mass of stars that form the open cluster Messier 35. In a wide field scope you’ll see the hundred
or so stars that form M35. And then to the upper right about a half degree you see the
small tight open cluster NGC 2158. These two make an attractive pair in astrophotos. Review So that’s our three objects for this episode.
We started off with locating the large and gorgeous Rosette Nebula in Monoceros. Then
we moved a little up and to the left and used our star hopping to focus on the Christmas
Tree Cluster and the adjacent Cone Nebula. We finished up by traversing the stars of
Gemini and located the pretty open star cluster Messier 35. There are tons more great deep
sky objects in the area that we can look at, in the coming weeks. We’d like to wish you and yours a happy and
star filled Thanksgiving. Step out and look at the stars tonight after your carbohydrate
rush wears off! Trailer I hope you’ve enjoyed star hopping around
the Milky Way. We’ll continue to bring you these astronomy tutorials every week on Thursday.
They will be designed to help you find deep sky objects that are up in the sky at the
time we post them to YouTube. Our main reason for creating these videos
is to help beginning amateur astronomers learn the sky and get more enjoyment out of their
telescopes and astronomy in general. If you have any requests or suggestions of potential
targets in the night sky that you would like to see us present here, just let us know down
in the comment section below. If you found this video useful, please consider
Subscribing to our Channel down there, click the Thumbs Up, and please share it out to
your friends who like looking at stars. Also, as I just mentioned, please feel free to leave
any question or comment below, and we will be sure to respond quickly. Also, please follow KPO on Facebook, where
we post all of our astrophotos and keep everyone informed about upcoming astronomical events.
We’d love to hear from you to discuss all this great stuff up in the sky. All the links to these places including our
website, can be found below in the Episode Notes as well. And finally, if you feel this video provides
you value, and if you’d like to see more, please consider supporting us on Patreon,
where for a couple dollars per video, you can support our efforts and let us make even
more great astronomy tutorials like this one. Well thanks again for watching, and we’ll
see you next time on Star Hopping with Kissimmee Park Observatory.

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