Messier 34 or M34 (also designated NGC 1039) is an open cluster in the constellation Perseus. It has an apparent visual magnitude of 5.5 and its angular diameter is 35 arc-minutes. M34 lies at an estimated distance of 1400 light years. The Equinox 2000 coordinates are RA= 2h 42m, Dec= +42° 47´ which makes M34 best seen during the autumn. The Messier Autumn Star Chart shows the position of all Messier objects visible during that season.

The image above shows the uncropped view of M34 through the Takahashi E-180 Astrograph (North is to right). A 2x enlargement of this image appears to the right.

This open cluster was discovered by Messier in 1764. According to Kharchenko et al. (2005), the distance of M34 is 1630 light years and its diameter is 17 light years. It contains 94 stars and its estimated age is 225 million years.

For more information, see the Messier Catalog as well as specific entries for M34 in Wikipedia and SEDS.

Messier's Description of M34

August 25, 1764
`Cluster of small stars, between the head of Medusa (Algol) and the left foot of Andromeda, a little below the parallel of Gamma [Andromedae]: with an simple refractor of 3 feet one can distinguish the stars. Its position has been determined from Beta [Persei], the head of Medusa.' (diam. 15')

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