M29 is an open star cluster located in the constellation Cygnus. An open star cluster is a group of stars that formed at the same time from the same cloud of gas. Because all the stars formed from the same cloud of gas at the same time, open clusters (along with globular clusters) are extremely valuable to astronomers. Since all the stars have similar chemical composition and are about the same age, astronomers can study the life cycle of stars and the effects that certain stellar properties have on stars easily. This particular open cluster was discovered on July 29, 1764 by Charles Messier. Astronomers believe that it is approximately ten million years old and that it is moving toward us at about 28 km/s. The distance to M29 is debated because of an unknown amount of interstellar medium between earth and the cluster. This affects the distance calculation because astronomers are unsure of how much of the stars’ light is being absorbed by the dust that is between earth and M29. Using a distance of 6000 lightyears, the size of the cluster is about 10 lightyears across.
In my photograph of M29, I can see the stars are mostly blue, suggesting that this is a fairly young cluster.
Bennett, Jeffrey, Megan Donahue, Nicholas Schneider, and Mark Voit. The Cosmic Perspective. 6th ed. San Francisco: Addison-Wesley, 2010.
Frommert, Hartmut, and Christine Kronberg. "Messier 29." Students for the Exploration and Development of Space. 21 Aug. 2007. Web. 6 Dec. 2010. <http://seds.org/messier/m/m029.html>.
|Right Ascension (J2000)||20:23:54|
|Filters used||blue(B), green(V), red(R), and clear(C)|
|Exposure time per filter||60 seconds in CR, 300 seconds in BV|
October 26, 2010 (CR)