Messier 39 is a beautiful open star cluster that contains dozens of bright, sparkling stars that are visible to the naked eye. When viewed through a telescope, the stars appear to be arranged in a delicate and intricate pattern against the dark backdrop of space, creating a stunning celestial display that has captivated stargazers for centuries.
Position and region
Messier 39 is located in the constellation of Cygnus, which is also known as the Northern Cross due to its distinctive shape. The cluster is located in the northern part of Cygnus, near the border with the neighboring constellation of Cepheus. It is situated at a distance of approximately 800 light years from Earth and can be easily spotted in the night sky using a pair of binoculars or a small telescope.
- Messier 39 is one of the few star clusters in the sky that is visible to the naked eye and was known to ancient astronomers.
- The cluster has a distinctive “V” shape and is sometimes referred to as the “Vulture Cluster” due to its appearance.
- Messier 39 is one of the few star clusters that is believed to be moving towards the Solar System, with a radial velocity of approximately -5 km/s.
- The star cluster contains a number of red giant stars, which are in the later stages of their lives and are much brighter and larger than the other stars in the cluster.
Brightness and size
Messier 39 has a total brightness of magnitude 4.6 and is visible to the naked eye under dark skies. The cluster has a diameter of approximately 7 light years and contains dozens of bright, sparkling stars that are visible to the naked eye or through binoculars. Its apparent size in the sky is approximately 32 arc minutes, which is roughly equivalent to the size of the full moon. The stars in Messier 39 are relatively young, with an estimated age of around 280 million years, and are predominantly of spectral type B, which gives them a blue-white color.
Names and numbers
- Messier 39 (M39) – This is the official catalog number assigned to the star cluster by Charles Messier.
- NGC 7092 – This is another catalog number used to identify Messier 39, and it is part of the New General Catalogue of Nebulae and Clusters of Stars.
- Vulture Cluster – This name is derived from the cluster’s distinctive “V” shape.