Stargazing: Perseus, NGC 2244: Fairbanks, AK, USA: 2024-02-07 (publ. 2024-02-08)

I went stargazing yesterday evening, at the boat launch. NWS forecast had predicted 25% cloud coverage, but I'm finding I can't afford to be too picky and wait around for perfectly clear nights. I had prayer meeting and some other errands, but was able to make it out to the boat launch around 9:15pm AKST. In my hurry, I brought just the 12x60 binocs, my field guide, and a few other accessories, but not the tripod.

When I arrived, about 40% of the sky was covered with thick clouds, and the rest had patches of wispy clouds here and there. This was not encouraging, but there were enough holes in the clouds here and there that I thought it would be worth sticking around to see what I could. For a while, I had a mostly clear view of Perseus. I took some time with the binocs to enjoy the FOV around α Persei. The skies were relatively dark, for this location, and it was a rich view. Here are Stellarium reproductions:

α Persei location with constellation art

binocular view around α Persei

binocular view around α Persei (with labels)

After looking here and there for around 45 minutes, suddenly the clouds all rolled away off to the east, opening up a great view of multiple constellations toward the south and west. I had been intending to target NGC 2244, which is an open cluster in the (apparent) middle of the Rosetta Nebula. If you draw a line between α Orionis and α Canis Minoris, then go about 1/3 of the distance away from Orion, and go south just a little, you should find it easily with binoculars. It only took me a few seconds, not counting two or three minutes in the field guide to confirm I had the correct object. It is a little over 2 degrees east of ε Monocerotis, that is, near the head of the unicorn.

NGC 2244 location with constellation art

binocular view of NGC 2244

binocular view of NGC 2244 (with labels)

I started at it for a while, and used averted vision, trying to see the Rosetta Nebula. But I don't remember seeing any obvious glow or color.

At 10:30pm I headed home, having a 6am shift the next morning. I'm glad I persevered until 10pm — the dark sky was stunning once the clouds rolled away. In the final moments, pondering the beauty and awesomeness of God's creation, I found myself humming this hymn:

O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder
Consider all the works Thy hands have made,
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy pow’r thru-out the universe displayed!
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee;
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!

This work © 2024 by Christopher Howard is licensed under Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International.

CC BY-SA 4.0 Deed

Proxied content from gemini://

Gemini request details:

Original URL
Status code
Proxied by

Be advised that no attempt was made to verify the remote SSL certificate.