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  1. 1st February 2016 (9:00/9:30pm CET) Clear night, semi rural skies in South Spain (my patio). Binocular TS Marine 15x85 with tripod. Nice view today with clear skies of NGC 2264,the large brilliant open cluster with the stellar pattern of a Christmas tree. Amazingly, this very young cluster (only 3 million years) was never included in the Messier list. Nearly all of of its 20 stars are visible in medium size binoculars. 15 Monocerotis is the brightest star of the cluster, and it marks the half-degree base long of the tree, pointing to the North. Through 15x85 binoculars the 8.2 mag orange star on the East side of the tree is easily visible. The wedge-shaped Cone Nebula (invisible through medium size binoculars) forms the apex. Although the southern stars form the tree’s top, they don’t belong to this cluster. That is, they’re not moving through space with the main cluster. 3 degrees North from the Christmas tree, in the same FoV of stars Alzirr and 30 Gem, there is a small asterism (see image). I never read before about this asterism, but this little Christmas tree just jumped in my FoV. It’s formed with just 4 stars, shining at 5.9, 7.6, 8.1 and 8.5 mags. The asterism distinctive stellar pattern reminds a little Christmas tree, mainly after observing the big one. The brightest star HIP 31876 is actually a double star with a companion shinning at 9.3 mag separated just 10 arc seconds. Both of them form the apex of the Christmas tree. Overall, this asterism looks like a nice “little Christmas tree”. The last Christmas tree is just NGC 2232. It’s perfect 45 arc min conic shape reminds another Christmas tree. The blue-white central star is10 Monocerotis, which shines at 5.1 mag. Most of its other 20 stars range between 8th and 10th magnitude. This is one of the nearest open cluster to us. Only about 10 of the 1500 open clusters in our galaxy are closer. In summary, we should enjoy three Christmas seasons per year.
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