M39 (NGC 7092) -- Open Cluster in Cygnus
A Lost Feather from the Heavenly Swan
I find it strange that Messier only listed two Open Clusters in Cygnus, a constellation
which contains several other obvious Open Clusters. I believe, that one of the reasons that
the M39 cluster caught his eye is that under a dark sky it appears as a faint cloud. It might
have appeared somewhat comet-like to the unaided eye and thus qualified for his list.
Through any pair of binoculars or a telescope, M39 ceases to be a cloud and easily splits
into 30 or so stars. M39, as an Open Cluster, is big but contains few stars.
Several years back, I was observing the night sky from the top of Haleakala on Maui.
Under 6.7 magnitude skies, M39 appeared like a lost feather trailing behind the great
celestial bird as it slowly flew along the star-studded Milky Way. I cannot help but recall
that image whenever I revisit this Open Cluster.