It’s almost Christmas and even the sky is celebrating the most wonderful time of the year with the Christmas Tree Cluster, which you can currently view at night. Here is everything you need to know to make sure you don’t miss it.
What Is the Christmas Tree Cluster?
It is a young open cluster located in the constellation Monoceros that was named the Christmas Tree Cluster because the triangular cluster of stars is (kind of) shaped like a Christmas tree. Formed by a cluster of very young stars, the Christmas Tree Cluster was actually first discovered by William Herschel the day after Christmas way back in 1785.
What’s really cool about the Christmas Tree Cluster is the reddish hue it sometimes gives off, as the collection of sparking bluish-white stars covered by heavy layers of dust clouds, which are producing luminous new stars.
When Can I See It?
While it is named after Christmas, the Christmas Tree Cluster is not seasonal. It’s visible all year round. It’s just the most fun to view at Christmas because of the name and the holiday spirit that everybody is in. But even if your busy schedule doesn’t allow you to do any stargazing, you can still check it out in the new year.
How Can I See It?
Fortunately, the Christmas Tree Cluster currently should be visible to the naked eye, so you won’t need any sort of visual aid (though having a pair of binoculars handy certainly wouldn’t hurt your viewing experience).
Just locate the constellation Monoceros the Unicorn, which is near Orion, and at the highest part of that constellation, you will find the Christmas Tree Cluster you are looking for. If you need help locating it, you can use an interactive sky chart that can assist you in finding what you’re looking for.