Mars and M35, March 9, 2008. Mars is just one and a half degrees above an open star cluster called M35. Located in the constellation Gemini they were a beautiful sight in binoculars on this late winter night. I remember the first time I saw M35 many years ago. I wasn't looking for it, I was just sweeping the sky with a six inch telescope when the cluster suddenly filled the eyepiece like glittering jewels. M35 is located about 2,800 light years away. Just to the right of M35 looking like a fuzzy patch is another star cluster called NGC 2158. About ten times older, and five times farther away, the stars of NGC 2158 are more yellow in colour.
The bright star near the bottom of the photograph is called Propus, and it is the toe star of the Gemini twin Castor. Propus is a red giant star, and its colour is somewhat similar to Mars in this photograph. To the left of Propus is a faint magenta cloud of glowing hydrogen. This is IC 443, a supernova remnant of an explosion 8,000 years ago.
This photograph was published in SkyNews Magazine (Sep/Oct '08) receiving an Editors' Choice Award Honourable Mention.
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