NGC 2354 -- Open Cluster in Canis Major
The large and loose collection of stars, NGC 2354, is usually encounter in one of two ways by
amateur astronomers. First, is on purpose since this open cluster is listed as one of the
Herschel 400; a common observing list of celestial objects. The second reason it is often
encountered is by accident, when star hopping to the Tau Canis Majoris Cluster NGC 2362
from the bright star Wezen (Delta Canis Majoris). Tau Canis Majoris is a major destination for
amateur astronomers because it and M41 are the most impressive open clusters in the
constellation of the Greater Dog. When star hopping from Wezen to the Tau Canis Majoris
Cluster the less known NGC 2354 will subtly pass through the eyepiece.
NGC 2354 is the exact opposite of the Tau Canis Majoris Cluster. The Tau Canis Majoris
Cluster is bright, compact and impressive. NGC 2354 is, on the other hand, loose, large with
faint stars. They could not be more different and still both be open star clusters. Although, they
are fun to compare with each other (they are about a degree apart), it will not take long for you to
recognize why one is considered a “show piece” and the other remains far less visited.