NGC 2304 -- Open Cluster in Gemini
A Small Dim Open Cluster Between Mekbuda and Alhena
I have always found NGC 2304 a real challenge from my suburban backyard. With no stars
brighter than 12th magnitude and comprising an area of only 3 arcminutes it is easily
over whelmed by suburban skyglow.
The morning of January 21st, after the moon had set, the sky was as transparent as it gets
above my deck. NGC 2304 appeared with some effort in the eyepiece at a magnification
of 84x as an amorphous uniform ghostly glow. At 182x a half-dozen faint stars flickered in
and out of existence.
Finding the location of NGC 2304 is easier than seeing it in a semi-light-polluted sky. It
rests approximately halfway between Althena (Gamma Geminorium) and Mekbuda (Zeta
Geminorium) in the constellation of the Twins. I had on previous occasions looked for this
tiny cluster from my backyard and had, until this morning, always failed to locate it using the
155mm refractor. Sometimes persistence pays off.