There are two pictures of
the cluster shown below.
1. Wide-field image take with a small refractor.
2. Color image taken with a 10-inch telescope.
Open star cluster M-38 was discovered by Hodierna before 1654 as 'a nebulous patch' and re-discovered by Le Gentil in 1749. Other nearby star clusters in Auriga include M-36 and M-37, both also first observed by Hodierna and Le Gentil.
Charles Messier (Sept. 25th, 1764):
''A cluster of small stars in Auriga...... a little distance from the two preceding clusters (M36 & M37); this one is of square shape and contains no nebulosity if examined carefully with a good telescope. It extends to 15 arc minutes.'
'An oblique cross with a pair of large stars on each arm and a conspicuous single one in the center, the whole followed by a bright individual of 7 mag.'
'Noble cluster arranged as an oblique cross; pair of larger stars in each arm, brighter star in center. Larger stars dot it prettily with open doubles. Glorious neighborhood.'
Quote from Dreyer's New General Catalog(NGC) for NGC 1912:
Cluster, bright, very large, very rich in stars, irregular figure, stars large & small; = M38.
Quote from Burnham's Celestial Handbook:
A large star cluster in the Auriga Milky Way, located about 2.3° northwest of M36..... It is a scattered group of irregular form, with the brightest stars in a pattern resembling an inverted letter "Pi"...... A number of other fainter clusters will be found in this rich region of the sky.
The best distance and diameter estimates are: distance = 4,200 light years, diameter = 25 light years. Hopefully the recent data from the Hipparcos satellite will provide accurate figures.
Click below to
George Normandin, KAS
November 3rd, 2005