NGC 2301 -- Open Cluster in Monoceros
The Finest Open Cluster in the Unicorn
After completing my rough drawings of the dim and somewhat unimpressive Open Clusters
NGC 2311 and NGC 2286, I swung the telescope over to NGC 2301. When it came into
view my heart skipped a beat – WOW! – Now That is an Open Cluster!! NGC 2301 is
arguably the most impressive Open Cluster in the Unicorn. I will never tire of this marvel. In
my book it rivals M50 and all the other hundred or so named star clusters found within the
borders of Monoceros.
The dominant north-south arrangement of bright stars and magnificent side arms of dimmer
stars has sparked so many comments that I cannot really touch on all of them. Romulan War
Bird (Star Trek), Klingon Battle Cruiser (Star Trek), Hagrid’s Norwegian Ridgeback Dragon
(Harry Potter) or The Last Dragon (Game of Thrones) tops my list of favorite names. I
confess that I see none of these mythical creatures/ships when looking at the cluster, but
then again, I struggle to see a Unicorn in the dim stars of Monoceros. I think I need to work
on my imagination.
Even with a dearth of imagination, NGC 2301 was spell binding in the eyepiece. By the time
I finished my rough draft of NGC 2301, the moon had just pushed itself above the eastern
horizon ending the observing period. While taking down the telescope and covering the
mount, I wondered if I would soon dream of fire-breathing dragons or hostile starships.