Distance - 7,000 light years The dense grouping of stars in the image above is known as an open cluster [sometimes also known as a "galactic cluster"]. Open clusters are believed to originate in the same general area of space from the same local gas clouds. The dense grouping of stars seen above are all about the same approximate distance from us. It is believed that eventually the component stars of open clusters slowly drift apart and disperse. NGC 869 is one of two open clusters that make up the famous double cluster in the constellation Perseus. The Double Cluster is a naked eye object in dark rural areas and is a beautiful sight in binoculars and amateur telescopes. For more information on open star clusters see: http://www.seds.org/messier/open.html http://www.seds.org/messier/xtra/ngc/n0869.html
July 18, 2004
RGB Image - R - 21 sec., G - 12 sec., B - 15 sec., Each color component is a median combination of 10 sub-exposures.
Little Blair Valley, San Diego County, CA
Optics - Takahashi MT-200 at f/4.8 Mount - Astro-Physics 900 GTO, Camera - SBIG ST-2000XM