NGC 2281 -- Open Cluster in Auriga
The Broken Heart Cluster
When the words “Open Cluster” and “Auriga” are mentioned, the magnificent clusters
of M36, M37 and M38 comes to mind. The mighty Auriga polygon passes high in the
night sky over Maryland during the winter months and its Messier Open Clusters draw
views through the telescope for all those that search the heavens.  The Broken Heart
Cluster (NGC 2281) is also in Auriga and an impressive Open Cluster, but it is tucked
far away from the familiar polygon of stars and the three Messier Open Clusters,
residing almost to the border of where Auriga meets the Lynx.  Far fewer amateurs
venture into this seemingly vacant section of the heavens.  For those that do, the
Broken Heart Cluster’s pleasing collection of stars welcomes them.

To me NGC 2281 does not look like a broken heart, no matter how I warp my
imagination around it. To me the bright collection of stars at its center look something
like a tadpole with a bright tail along with another dimmer tail.  At the time of the
drawing, I had a few small clouds that would, on occasion pass between me and the
cluster.  The dimming and brightening of the two tails, left me with the impression of a
single tail whipping back-and-forth.  My tadpole appeared to be swimming through
the cluster.  It does, to a small degree, breaks-my-heart that more amateur
astronomers do not venture to NGC 2281.  Might that be the reason for its common