Astronomy Picture of the Day

Double Cluster in Perseus

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Double Cluster in Perseus


Skygazers recently following
Comet Holmes
have probably also chanced across this
lovely starfield,
not far from the comet on the sky in the constellation

Some 7,000 light-years away, this pair of open or galactic
star clusters is an easy
binocular target and is visible to the unaided eye from
dark sky areas.

In fact, it was cataloged in 130 BC
by Greek astronomer Hipparchus.

Now known as
h and
chi Persei
, or
NGC 869(left) and NGC 884, the clusters
themselves are separated by only a few hundred light-years and
contain stars much younger and hotter than the Sun.

In addition to being physically close together, the clusters' ages
based on
their individual stars are similar - evidence that
both clusters were likely a product of the same star-forming

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