…continuedOpen Clusters by the Season
The Jewel of Autumn
In the telescope this tremendous blaze of scintillating suns makes a commanding entrance into the eyepiece field. One can look for a long time at the many doubles, the colors, the winding patterns, as the dense cores of the cluster thin out slowly to merge finally in the star-rich background of the galaxy itself. Gazing at these clusters produces a succession of feelings too subtle and too complex to be captured by words along. Each of these two open clusters would stand well on its own, but they are even more spectacular because, less than a degree apart, they're visible in the same low-power field.
Thomas W. Webb justly called attention to M34 as a grand, low-power, rich-field object. I feel that 15 x 65 binoculars give the best impression; the low power allows plenty of dark sky surrounding the cluster to enhance contrast. The sky background is sprinkled with faint stars, so it may be easier to decide where the cluster edge lies by using a small rather than a large telescope. More magnification merely spreads out the few bright stars that the binoculars show perfectly well.
Many observers see its stars arranged into distinct curved lanes that diverge from the cluster's center. I see three noteworthy curved rays of stars running out from the center which are very evident in my 4-inch Clark refractor at 40x; indeed, they even show in binoculars. Many of the stars also form pairs.