I always have a lot of trouble with my imaging at this time of year as there are so many great objects up there to be grabbed and I can only concentrate on one at a time. Auriga is in competition with Orion for my attention every winter as Auriga is also teeming with lots of goodies to image. Although Cassiopeia is chock-a-block with open clusters – Auriga comes in at a pretty close second as far as I’m concerned. This December’s Imaging Object of the Month is the beautiful open cluster M38 in Auriga. It is pretty large with a diameter of 15 arc minutes and shines away at magnitude 6.4. M38 lies at a distance of 4,200 light years (so it is pretty close) and it makes a great capture in a longish focal length instrument where you can nicely frame the region.
M36, M37 and M38 are all open clusters lying quite close to one another in Auriga and it is well worth bagging the lot if you get enough clear skies.
As per usual the formula for imaging this one is a resonable focal length, 3 to 5-minute subs, and as many as you can get. In the “old” Hyperstar days I often took 100 subs of an object as my sub-exposure time was typically just one minute. Although the images did not have great depth, they were glassy smooth, and were perfect for clusters and single bright star images.
Well – the next Imaging Object of the Month will be in a New Year. So, Happy New Year to you all and let the long dark imaging nights continue – for just a little bit longer 🙂