NGC 2264 is a magnitude 4.1 star cluster that is better known as the Christmas Tree Star Cluster. This star cluster has about 20 bright members, and more than 100 fainter members of the group. The brightest member of the group is a type O star that shines with the luminosity of 8500 suns. Other bright members of the cluster are type B and A stars, with a few yellow giants included that are type G and K stars. Located in a region of new star formation, this cluster is recognized as one of the youngest star clusters known. The majority of the members of the cluster are thought to be no more than one or two million years old. The cluster is surrounded by faint nebulosity, but this image was not processed to reveal it. NGC 2264 is located about 2600 light-years away. It is approximately the same distance from us as the Rosette Nebula, and the nebulosity surrounding the cluster is part of the same large complex of nebulosity as the Rosette Nebula, the Orion Nebula, the Flame Nebula, and the Horsehead Nebula.
This image was taken with an ST-8XE CCD at prime focus on a Takahashi FS-78 refractor. The image was taken from my backyard in Scottsdale, Arizona.
RA: 06h 41m 26s Dec: +09d 53' 23"
December 3, 2007
Image by Sid Leach
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