Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Tree Series - I

Christmas Tree Cluster I

Credit: Laura Baird/Flynn Haase/NOAO/AURA/NSF

Culture is well represented in the heavens as names on constellations, nebulae, stars etc. That is also the case for the Christmas tree. In the heavens the Christmas tree contains a few other elements such as a Cone, just like one would expect. I can't say I've seen a Fox Fur on a Christmas tree here on Earth, though, but it sure has got one in the sky version of a Christmas tree.

The Christmas Tree Cluster (NGC 2264) was discovered by William Herschel in 1784 and can be observed with binoculars. The star cluster includes many interesting and curious structures in the gas and dust. At the bottom of the frame, the dark triangular feature is known as the Cone Nebula ( mentioned above). The region to the right of the brightest star has a strange, fur-like texture that has led to the name Fox Fur Nebula, also mentioned above.

I've collected a few images of the Christmas Tree for you to enjoy these holidays. Links to the original and more scientific information about this spectacular view in the sky is integrated in the text.

The image above is taken at Kitt Peak and published December 2004 on NOAO's pages (click image for the original). Note that I have rotated all the Christmas Tree Cluster images so that we see 'a tree' standing upright.

No comments: