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Astr111 Photography Projects, Fall 2009

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M34 , Drew Duncan


The above photograph is a composite image taken of Messier object #34 (M34). M34 is an open star cluster located inside the constellation Perseus. It was discovered in 1654 by Giovanni Batista, an Italian astronomer. The constellation itself spans an area of the night sky larger than the full moon, almost 35 arc-minutes. Open star clusters like M34 are formed from immense regions of gas or dust, and since each star in the cluster was made from the same cloud, they are all nearly the same age and distance from the earth. Currently, there are 1100 known open clusters within our galaxy, and it is estimated that there are as many as 100,000 such clusters in existence within our galaxy.

Despite its large presence in the night sky, it is estimated that M34 is just over 1400 light years away from earth. comparing this to the relative viewing size from earth (just under 35’) we can tell that M34 is 14 light years across. It is estimated that M34 contains roughly 100 stars of varying sizes, and the gravitational pull between these stars holds the cluster itself together.



Frommert, Hartmout, and Christine Kronberg. "Messier Object 34." Students for the Exploration and Development of Space N.p., 25 Aug. 2007. Web. 9 Dec. 2009. <http://www.seds.org/MESSIER/m/m034.html>.

Frommert, Hartmut and Kronberg, Christine. "M34." Open Star Clusters. <http://www.maa.clell.de/Messier/open.html>

"Messier Objects Gallery M34-M44." The Big Foto N.p., 27 Feb. 2009. Web. 9 Dec. 2009. <http://thebigfoto.com/messier-objects-gallery-m34-m44>.

Right Ascension (J2000) 02:41:04; 02:42:56
Declination (J2000) +42:40:15; +42:53:45
Filters used clear(C)
Exposure time per filter 77x10 seconds in C
Date observed

September 8, 2009 (C)
September 10, 2009 (C)