After what has seemed like months of cloudy, hazy or brightly lit up sky from a near full moon, it was finally forecast to be clear last night. Sounded to good to be true,I know, so I was planning to set up a scope for some long-awaited viewing. Darn it, an hour before sunset the clouds moved in before I had set up for the night. So much for viewing I thought, but when I took the dog out before bed, wouldn’t you know it, the sky was crystal clear.
I had just read Phil Harrington’s January article on Cloudy Night’s about observing in the arm of Orion, so I grabbed my binoculars, bundled up and headed out to the back yard for some quick viewing. The sky in town was not really that good, only having a naked eye limiting magnitude of only 4.2. The humidity was a low 54% but the sky was still very bright. After sitting down and leaning back in a lawn chair I started to cruse north along the arm of Orion. When I arrived at Nu and Xi, due south of Nu, I could easily see NGC 2169, the 37 cluster. This cluster is a bright but small hazy spot, that when looked at with averted vision, I could see two brighter sections in the haze. Located approximately two degrees southeast of NGC 2169 is the cluster NGC 2194, a small dim spot of haze that is best seen with averted vision.
Moving up to what I have known as the end of Orion’s club, the two stars Chi1 and Chi2. Looking about two degrees east of Chi2, I was able to see NGC 2175 with averted vision about 20% of the time. This is a very faint nebulous spot that is according to Phil a small cluster. However the original NGC description describes this as a nebula around a faint sparse cluster, not an open cluster.
I also looked at Cr 69, the Lambda Orion cluster a the head of Orion. Next I looked at Cr 65, a large loose open cluster about five degrees in diameter on the border of Taurus. This cluster is larger than the binoculars field-of-view.
Then I went to the shield of Orion and looked at NGC 1662, a small gray puff in the night sky. I always find it interesting how so many small open clusters appear as small gray spots in the sky.
I went on to look at many more clusters in my brightly lit up sky. many could be seen and several I could not see with my 9.5×63 binoculars. I am so glad that I took the dog out and looked up.