Star clusters are groups of stars. Two types of star clusters can be distinguished: globular clusters are tight groups of hundreds or thousands of old stars which are gravitationally bound, while open clusters, more loosely clustered groups of stars contain fewer than a few hundred members, are very young. Open clusters become disrupted over time by the gravitational influence of giant molecular clouds as they move through the galaxy, but cluster members will continue to move in broadly the same direction through space though they are no longer gravitationally bound. Star clusters visible to the naked eye include the Pleiades and the Beehive Cluster. Globular clusters are spherical groupings of from 10,000 to several million stars packed into regions of from 10 to 30 light years across, they consist of old Population II stars—just a few hundred million years younger than the universe itself—which are yellow and red, with masses less than two solar masses. Such stars predominate within clusters because hotter and more massive stars have exploded as supernovae, or evolved through planetary nebula phases to end as white dwarfs.
Yet a few rare blue stars exist in globulars, thought to be formed by stellar mergers in their dense inner regions. In our galaxy, globular clusters are distributed spherically in the galactic halo, around the galactic centre, orbiting the centre in elliptical orbits. In 1917, the astronomer Harlow Shapley made the first reliable estimate the Sun's distance from the galactic centre based on the distribution of globular clusters; until the mid-1990s, globular clusters were the cause of a great mystery in astronomy, as theories of stellar evolution gave ages for the oldest members of globular clusters that were greater than the estimated age of the universe. However improved distance measurements to globular clusters using the Hipparcos satellite and accurate measurements of the Hubble constant resolved the paradox, giving an age for the universe of about 13 billion years and an age for the oldest stars of a few hundred million years less. Our galaxy has about 150 globular clusters, some of which may have been captured from small galaxies disrupted by the Milky Way, as seems to be the case for the globular cluster M79.
Some galaxies are much richer in globulars: the giant elliptical galaxy M87 contains over a thousand. A few of the brightest globular clusters are visible to the naked eye, with the brightest, Omega Centauri, having been known since antiquity and catalogued as a star before the telescopic age; the brightest globular cluster in the northern hemisphere is Messier 13 in the constellation of Hercules. Super star clusters are large regions of recent star formation, are thought to be the precursors of globular clusters. Examples include Westerlund 1 in the Milky Way. Open clusters are different from globular clusters. Unlike the spherically distributed globulars, they are confined to the galactic plane, are always found within spiral arms, they are young objects, up to a few tens of millions of years old, with a few rare exceptions as old as a few billion years, such as Messier 67 for example. They form from H II regions such as the Orion Nebula. Open clusters contain up to a few hundred members, within a region up to about 30 light-years across.
Being much less densely populated than globular clusters, they are much less gravitationally bound, over time, are disrupted by the gravity of giant molecular clouds and other clusters. Close encounters between cluster members can result in the ejection of stars, a process known as'evaporation'; the most prominent open clusters are the Hyades in Taurus. The Double Cluster of h+Chi Persei can be prominent under dark skies. Open clusters are dominated by hot young blue stars, because although such stars are short-lived in stellar terms, only lasting a few tens of millions of years, open clusters tend to have dispersed before these stars die. Establishing precise distances to open clusters enables the calibration of the period-luminosity relationship shown by Cepheids variable stars, which are used as standard candles. Cepheids are luminous and can be used to establish both the distances to remote galaxies and the expansion rate of the Universe. Indeed, the open cluster NGC 7790 hosts three classical Cepheids which are critical for such efforts.
Embedded clusters are groups of young stars that are or encased in an Interstellar dust or gas, impervious to optical observations. Embedded clusters form in molecular clouds, when the clouds begin to form stars. There is ongoing star formation in these clusters, so embedded clusters may be home to various types of young stellar objects including protostars and pre-main-sequence stars. An example of an embedded cluster is the Trapezium cluster in the Orion Nebula. In ρ Ophiuchi cloud core region there is an embedded cluster; the embedded cluster phase may last for several million years, after which gas in the cloud is depleted by star formation or dispersed through radiation pressure, stellar winds and outflows, or supernova explosions. In general less than 30% of cloud mass is converted to stars before the cloud is dispersed, but this fraction may be higher in dense parts of the cloud. With the loss of mass in the cloud, the energy of the system is altered leading to the disruption of a star cluster.
Most young embedded clusters disperse shortly after the end of star formation. The open clusters fou
Right ascension is the angular distance of a particular point measured eastward along the celestial equator from the Sun at the March equinox to the point above the earth in question. When paired with declination, these astronomical coordinates specify the direction of a point on the celestial sphere in the equatorial coordinate system. An old term, right ascension refers to the ascension, or the point on the celestial equator that rises with any celestial object as seen from Earth's equator, where the celestial equator intersects the horizon at a right angle, it contrasts with oblique ascension, the point on the celestial equator that rises with any celestial object as seen from most latitudes on Earth, where the celestial equator intersects the horizon at an oblique angle. Right ascension is the celestial equivalent of terrestrial longitude. Both right ascension and longitude measure an angle from a primary direction on an equator. Right ascension is measured from the Sun at the March equinox i.e. the First Point of Aries, the place on the celestial sphere where the Sun crosses the celestial equator from south to north at the March equinox and is located in the constellation Pisces.
Right ascension is measured continuously in a full circle from that alignment of Earth and Sun in space, that equinox, the measurement increasing towards the east. As seen from Earth, objects noted to have 12h RA are longest visible at the March equinox. On those dates at midnight, such objects will reach their highest point. How high depends on their declination. Any units of angular measure could have been chosen for right ascension, but it is customarily measured in hours and seconds, with 24h being equivalent to a full circle. Astronomers have chosen this unit to measure right ascension because they measure a star's location by timing its passage through the highest point in the sky as the Earth rotates; the line which passes through the highest point in the sky, called the meridian, is the projection of a longitude line onto the celestial sphere. Since a complete circle contains 24h of right ascension or 360°, 1/24 of a circle is measured as 1h of right ascension, or 15°. A full circle, measured in right-ascension units, contains 24 × 60 × 60 = 86400s, or 24 × 60 = 1440m, or 24h.
Because right ascensions are measured in hours, they can be used to time the positions of objects in the sky. For example, if a star with RA = 1h 30m 00s is at its meridian a star with RA = 20h 00m 00s will be on the/at its meridian 18.5 sidereal hours later. Sidereal hour angle, used in celestial navigation, is similar to right ascension, but increases westward rather than eastward. Measured in degrees, it is the complement of right ascension with respect to 24h, it is important not to confuse sidereal hour angle with the astronomical concept of hour angle, which measures angular distance of an object westward from the local meridian. The Earth's axis rotates westward about the poles of the ecliptic, completing one cycle in about 26,000 years; this movement, known as precession, causes the coordinates of stationary celestial objects to change continuously, if rather slowly. Therefore, equatorial coordinates are inherently relative to the year of their observation, astronomers specify them with reference to a particular year, known as an epoch.
Coordinates from different epochs must be mathematically rotated to match each other, or to match a standard epoch. Right ascension for "fixed stars" near the ecliptic and equator increases by about 3.05 seconds per year on average, or 5.1 minutes per century, but for fixed stars further from the ecliptic the rate of change can be anything from negative infinity to positive infinity. The right ascension of Polaris is increasing quickly; the North Ecliptic Pole in Draco and the South Ecliptic Pole in Dorado are always at right ascension 18h and 6h respectively. The used standard epoch is J2000.0, January 1, 2000 at 12:00 TT. The prefix "J" indicates. Prior to J2000.0, astronomers used the successive Besselian epochs B1875.0, B1900.0, B1950.0. The concept of right ascension has been known at least as far back as Hipparchus who measured stars in equatorial coordinates in the 2nd century BC, but Hipparchus and his successors made their star catalogs in ecliptic coordinates, the use of RA was limited to special cases.
With the invention of the telescope, it became possible for astronomers to observe celestial objects in greater detail, provided that the telescope could be kept pointed at the object for a period of time. The easiest way to do, to use an equatorial mount, which allows the telescope to be aligned with one of its two pivots parallel to the Earth's axis. A motorized clock drive is used with an equatorial mount to cancel out the Earth's rotation; as the equatorial mount became adopted for observation, the equatorial coordinate system, which includes right ascension, was adopted at the same time for simplicity. Equatorial mounts could be pointed at objects with known right ascension and declination by the use of setting circles; the first star catalog to use right ascen
Canis Minor is a small constellation in the northern celestial hemisphere. In the second century, it was included as an asterism, or pattern, of two stars in Ptolemy's 48 constellations, it is counted among the 88 modern constellations, its name is Latin for "lesser dog", in contrast to Canis Major, the "greater dog". Canis Minor contains only two stars brighter than the fourth magnitude, with a magnitude of 0.34, Gomeisa, with a magnitude of 2.9. The constellation's dimmer stars were noted by Johann Bayer, who named eight stars including Alpha and Beta, John Flamsteed, who numbered fourteen. Procyon is the seventh-brightest star in the night sky, as well as one of the closest. A yellow-white main sequence star, it has a white dwarf companion. Gomeisa is a blue-white main sequence star. Luyten's Star is a ninth-magnitude red dwarf and the Solar System's next closest stellar neighbour in the constellation after Procyon; the fourth-magnitude HD 66141, which has evolved into an orange giant towards the end of its life cycle, was discovered to have a planet in 2012.
There are two faint deep-sky objects within the constellation's borders. The 11 Canis-Minorids are a meteor shower. Though associated with the Classical Greek uranographic tradition, Canis Minor originates from ancient Mesopotamia. Procyon and Gomeisa were called MASH. TAB. BA or "twins" in the Three Stars Each tablets, dating to around 1100 BC. In the MUL. APIN, this name was applied to the pairs of Pi3 and Pi4 Orionis and Zeta and Xi Orionis; the meaning of MASH. TAB. BA evolved as well, becoming the twin deities Lulal and Latarak, who are on the opposite side of the sky from Papsukal, the True Shepherd of Heaven in Babylonian mythology. Canis Minor was given the name DAR. LUGAL, its position defined as "the star which stands behind it ", in the MUL. APIN; this name may have referred to the constellation Lepus. DAR. LUGAL was denoted DAR. MUŠEN and DAR. LUGAL. MUŠEN in Babylonia. Canis Minor was called tarlugallu in Akkadian astronomy. Canis Minor was one of the original 48 constellations formulated by Ptolemy in his second-century Almagest, in which it was defined as a specific pattern of stars.
The Ancient Greeks called the constellation προκυων/Procyon, "coming before the dog", transliterated into Latin as Antecanis, Praecanis, or variations thereof, by Cicero and others. Roman writers appended the descriptors parvus, minor or minusculus, primus or sinister to its name Canis. In Greek mythology, Canis Minor was sometimes connected with the Teumessian Fox, a beast turned into stone with its hunter, Laelaps, by Zeus, who placed them in heaven as Canis Major and Canis Minor. Eratosthenes accompanied the Little Dog with Orion, while Hyginus linked the constellation with Maera, a dog owned by Icarius of Athens. On discovering the latter's death, the dog and Icarius' daughter Erigone took their lives and all three were placed in the sky—Erigone as Virgo and Icarius as Boötes; as a reward for his faithfulness, the dog was placed along the "banks" of the Milky Way, which the ancients believed to be a heavenly river, where he would never suffer from thirst. The medieval Arabic astronomers maintained the depiction of Canis Minor as a dog.
There was one slight difference between the Ptolemaic vision of the Arabic. The Arabic names for both Procyon and Gomeisa alluded to their proximity and resemblance to Sirius, though they were not direct translations of the Greek. Among the Merazig of Tunisia, shepherds note six constellations that mark the passage of the dry, hot season. One of them, called Merzem, includes the stars of Canis Minor and Canis Major and is the herald of two weeks of hot weather; the ancient Egyptians thought of this constellation as the jackal god. Alternative names have been proposed: Johann Bayer in the early 17th century termed the constellation Fovea "The Pit", Morus "Sycamine Tree". Seventeenth-century German poet and author Philippus Caesius linked it to the dog of Tobias from the Apocrypha. Richard A. Proctor gave the constellation the name Felis "the Cat" in 1870, explaining that he sought to shorten the constellation names to make them more manageable on celestial charts. Canis Minor is confused with Canis Major and given the name Canis Orionis.
In Chinese astronomy, the stars corresponding to Canis Minor lie in the Vermilion Bird of the South. Procyon and Eta Canis Minoris form an asterism known as Nánhé, the Southern River. With its counterpart, the Northern River Beihe, Nánhé was associated with a gate or sentry. Along with Zeta and 8 Cancri, 6 Canis Minoris and 11 Canis Minoris formed the asterism Shuiwei, which means "water level". Combined with additional stars in Gemini, Shuiwei represented an official who managed floodwaters or a marker of the water level. Neighboring Kore
A galaxy is a gravitationally bound system of stars, stellar remnants, interstellar gas and dark matter. The word galaxy is derived from the Greek galaxias "milky", a reference to the Milky Way. Galaxies range in size from dwarfs with just a few hundred million stars to giants with one hundred trillion stars, each orbiting its galaxy's center of mass. Galaxies are categorized according to their visual morphology as spiral, or irregular. Many galaxies are thought to have supermassive black holes at their centers; the Milky Way's central black hole, known as Sagittarius A*, has a mass four million times greater than the Sun. As of March 2016, GN-z11 is the oldest and most distant observed galaxy with a comoving distance of 32 billion light-years from Earth, observed as it existed just 400 million years after the Big Bang. Research released in 2016 revised the number of galaxies in the observable universe from a previous estimate of 200 billion to a suggested 2 trillion or more, containing more stars than all the grains of sand on planet Earth.
Most of the galaxies are 1,000 to 100,000 parsecs in diameter and separated by distances on the order of millions of parsecs. For comparison, the Milky Way has a diameter of at least 30,000 parsecs and is separated from the Andromeda Galaxy, its nearest large neighbor, by 780,000 parsecs; the space between galaxies is filled with a tenuous gas having an average density of less than one atom per cubic meter. The majority of galaxies are gravitationally organized into groups and superclusters; the Milky Way is part of the Local Group, dominated by it and the Andromeda Galaxy and is part of the Virgo Supercluster. At the largest scale, these associations are arranged into sheets and filaments surrounded by immense voids; the largest structure of galaxies yet recognised is a cluster of superclusters, named Laniakea, which contains the Virgo supercluster. The origin of the word galaxy derives from the Greek term for the Milky Way, galaxias, or kyklos galaktikos due to its appearance as a "milky" band of light in the sky.
In Greek mythology, Zeus places his son born by a mortal woman, the infant Heracles, on Hera's breast while she is asleep so that the baby will drink her divine milk and will thus become immortal. Hera wakes up while breastfeeding and realizes she is nursing an unknown baby: she pushes the baby away, some of her milk spills, it produces the faint band of light known as the Milky Way. In the astronomical literature, the capitalized word "Galaxy" is used to refer to our galaxy, the Milky Way, to distinguish it from the other galaxies in our universe; the English term Milky Way can be traced back to a story by Chaucer c. 1380: "See yonder, lo, the Galaxyë Which men clepeth the Milky Wey, For hit is whyt." Galaxies were discovered telescopically and were known as spiral nebulae. Most 18th to 19th Century astronomers considered them as either unresolved star clusters or anagalactic nebulae, were just thought as a part of the Milky Way, but their true composition and natures remained a mystery. Observations using larger telescopes of a few nearby bright galaxies, like the Andromeda Galaxy, began resolving them into huge conglomerations of stars, but based on the apparent faintness and sheer population of stars, the true distances of these objects placed them well beyond the Milky Way.
For this reason they were popularly called island universes, but this term fell into disuse, as the word universe implied the entirety of existence. Instead, they became known as galaxies. Tens of thousands of galaxies have been catalogued, but only a few have well-established names, such as the Andromeda Galaxy, the Magellanic Clouds, the Whirlpool Galaxy, the Sombrero Galaxy. Astronomers work with numbers from certain catalogues, such as the Messier catalogue, the NGC, the IC, the CGCG, the MCG and UGC. All of the well-known galaxies appear in one or more of these catalogues but each time under a different number. For example, Messier 109 is a spiral galaxy having the number 109 in the catalogue of Messier, having the designations NGC 3992, UGC 6937, CGCG 269-023, MCG +09-20-044, PGC 37617; the realization that we live in a galaxy, one among many galaxies, parallels major discoveries that were made about the Milky Way and other nebulae. The Greek philosopher Democritus proposed that the bright band on the night sky known as the Milky Way might consist of distant stars.
Aristotle, believed the Milky Way to be caused by "the ignition of the fiery exhalation of some stars that were large and close together" and that the "ignition takes place in the upper part of the atmosphere, in the region of the World, continuous with the heavenly motions." The Neoplatonist philosopher Olympiodorus the Younger was critical of this view, arguing that if the Milky Way is sublunary it should appear different at different times and places on Earth, that it should have parallax, which it does not. In his view, the Milky Way is celestial. According to Mohani Mohamed, the Arabian astronomer Alhazen made the first attempt at observing and measuring the Milky Way's parallax, he thus "determined that because the Milky Way had no parallax, it must be remote from the Earth, not belonging to the atmosphere." The Persian astronomer al-Bīrūnī
New General Catalogue
The New General Catalogue of Nebulae and Clusters of Stars is a catalogue of deep-sky objects compiled by John Louis Emil Dreyer in 1888. It expands upon the cataloguing work of William and Caroline Herschel, John Herschel's General Catalogue of Nebulae and Clusters of Stars; the NGC contains 7,840 objects, known as the NGC objects. It is one of the largest comprehensive catalogues, as it includes all types of deep space objects, including galaxies, star clusters, emission nebulae and absorption nebulae. Dreyer published two supplements to the NGC in 1895 and 1908, known as the Index Catalogues, describing a further 5,386 astronomical objects. Objects in the sky of the southern hemisphere are catalogued somewhat less but many were observed by John Herschel or James Dunlop; the NGC had many errors, but an attempt to eliminate them was initiated by the NGC/IC Project in 1993, after partial attempts with the Revised New General Catalogue by Jack W. Sulentic and William G. Tifft in 1973, NGC2000.0 by Roger W. Sinnott in 1988.
The Revised New General Catalogue and Index Catalogue was compiled in 2009 by Wolfgang Steinicke. The original New General Catalogue was compiled during the 1880s by John Louis Emil Dreyer using observations from William Herschel and his son John, among others. Dreyer had published a supplement to Herschel's General Catalogue of Nebulae and Clusters, containing about 1,000 new objects. In 1886, he suggested building a second supplement to the General Catalogue, but the Royal Astronomical Society asked Dreyer to compile a new version instead; this led to the publication of the New General Catalogue in the Memoirs of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1888. Assembling the NGC was a challenge, as Dreyer had to deal with many contradicting and unclear reports, made with a variety of telescopes with apertures ranging from 2 to 72 inches. While he did check some himself, the sheer number of objects meant Dreyer had to accept them as published by others for the purpose of his compilation; the catalogue contained several errors relating to position and descriptions, but Dreyer referenced the catalogue, which allowed astronomers to review the original references and publish corrections to the original NGC.
The first major update to the NGC is the Index Catalogue of Nebulae and Clusters of Stars, published in two parts by Dreyer in 1895 and 1908. It serves as a supplement to the NGC, contains an additional 5,386 objects, collectively known as the IC objects, it summarizes the discoveries of galaxies and nebulae between 1888 and 1907, most of them made possible by photography. A list of corrections to the IC was published in 1912; the Revised New Catalogue of Nonstellar Astronomical Objects was compiled by Jack W. Sulentic and William G. Tifft in the early 1970s, was published in 1973, as an update to the NGC; the work did not incorporate several previously-published corrections to the NGC data, introduced some new errors. Nearly 800 objects are listed as "non-existent" in the RNGC; the designation is applied to objects which are duplicate catalogue entries, those which were not detected in subsequent observations, a number of objects catalogued as star clusters which in subsequent studies were regarded as coincidental groupings.
A 1993 monograph considered the 229 star clusters called non-existent in the RNGC. They had been "misidentified or have not been located since their discovery in the 18th and 19th centuries", it found that one of the 229—NGC 1498—was not in the sky. Five others were duplicates of other entries, 99 existed "in some form", the other 124 required additional research to resolve; as another example, reflection nebula NGC 2163 in Orion was classified "non-existent" due to a transcription error by Dreyer. Dreyer corrected his own mistake in the Index Catalogues, but the RNGC preserved the original error, additionally reversed the sign of the declination, resulting in NGC 2163 being classified as non-existent. NGC 2000.0 is a 1988 compilation of the NGC and IC made by Roger W. Sinnott, using the J2000.0 coordinates. It incorporates several errata made by astronomers over the years; the NGC/IC Project is a collaboration formed in 1993. It aims to identify all NGC and IC objects, collect images and basic astronomical data on them.
The Revised New General Catalogue and Index Catalogue is a compilation made by Wolfgang Steinicke in 2009. It is a authoritative treatment of the NGC and IC catalogues. Messier object Catalogue of Nebulae and Clusters of Stars Astronomical catalogue List of astronomical catalogues List of NGC objects The Interactive NGC Catalog Online Adventures in Deep Space: Challenging Observing Projects for Amateur Astronomers. Revised New General Catalogue
A star is type of astronomical object consisting of a luminous spheroid of plasma held together by its own gravity. The nearest star to Earth is the Sun. Many other stars are visible to the naked eye from Earth during the night, appearing as a multitude of fixed luminous points in the sky due to their immense distance from Earth; the most prominent stars were grouped into constellations and asterisms, the brightest of which gained proper names. Astronomers have assembled star catalogues that identify the known stars and provide standardized stellar designations. However, most of the estimated 300 sextillion stars in the Universe are invisible to the naked eye from Earth, including all stars outside our galaxy, the Milky Way. For at least a portion of its life, a star shines due to thermonuclear fusion of hydrogen into helium in its core, releasing energy that traverses the star's interior and radiates into outer space. All occurring elements heavier than helium are created by stellar nucleosynthesis during the star's lifetime, for some stars by supernova nucleosynthesis when it explodes.
Near the end of its life, a star can contain degenerate matter. Astronomers can determine the mass, age and many other properties of a star by observing its motion through space, its luminosity, spectrum respectively; the total mass of a star is the main factor. Other characteristics of a star, including diameter and temperature, change over its life, while the star's environment affects its rotation and movement. A plot of the temperature of many stars against their luminosities produces a plot known as a Hertzsprung–Russell diagram. Plotting a particular star on that diagram allows the age and evolutionary state of that star to be determined. A star's life begins with the gravitational collapse of a gaseous nebula of material composed of hydrogen, along with helium and trace amounts of heavier elements; when the stellar core is sufficiently dense, hydrogen becomes converted into helium through nuclear fusion, releasing energy in the process. The remainder of the star's interior carries energy away from the core through a combination of radiative and convective heat transfer processes.
The star's internal pressure prevents it from collapsing further under its own gravity. A star with mass greater than 0.4 times the Sun's will expand to become a red giant when the hydrogen fuel in its core is exhausted. In some cases, it will fuse heavier elements in shells around the core; as the star expands it throws a part of its mass, enriched with those heavier elements, into the interstellar environment, to be recycled as new stars. Meanwhile, the core becomes a stellar remnant: a white dwarf, a neutron star, or if it is sufficiently massive a black hole. Binary and multi-star systems consist of two or more stars that are gravitationally bound and move around each other in stable orbits; when two such stars have a close orbit, their gravitational interaction can have a significant impact on their evolution. Stars can form part of a much larger gravitationally bound structure, such as a star cluster or a galaxy. Stars have been important to civilizations throughout the world, they have used for celestial navigation and orientation.
Many ancient astronomers believed that stars were permanently affixed to a heavenly sphere and that they were immutable. By convention, astronomers grouped stars into constellations and used them to track the motions of the planets and the inferred position of the Sun; the motion of the Sun against the background stars was used to create calendars, which could be used to regulate agricultural practices. The Gregorian calendar used nearly everywhere in the world, is a solar calendar based on the angle of the Earth's rotational axis relative to its local star, the Sun; the oldest dated star chart was the result of ancient Egyptian astronomy in 1534 BC. The earliest known star catalogues were compiled by the ancient Babylonian astronomers of Mesopotamia in the late 2nd millennium BC, during the Kassite Period; the first star catalogue in Greek astronomy was created by Aristillus in 300 BC, with the help of Timocharis. The star catalog of Hipparchus included 1020 stars, was used to assemble Ptolemy's star catalogue.
Hipparchus is known for the discovery of the first recorded nova. Many of the constellations and star names in use today derive from Greek astronomy. In spite of the apparent immutability of the heavens, Chinese astronomers were aware that new stars could appear. In 185 AD, they were the first to observe and write about a supernova, now known as the SN 185; the brightest stellar event in recorded history was the SN 1006 supernova, observed in 1006 and written about by the Egyptian astronomer Ali ibn Ridwan and several Chinese astronomers. The SN 1054 supernova, which gave birth to the Crab Nebula, was observed by Chinese and Islamic astronomers. Medieval Islamic astronomers gave Arabic names to many stars that are still used today and they invented numerous astronomical instruments that could compute the positions of the stars, they built the first large observatory research institutes for the purpose of producing Zij star catalogues. Among these, the Book of Fixed Stars was written by the Persian astronomer Abd al-Rahman al-Sufi, who observed a number of stars, star clusters and galaxies.
According to A. Zahoor, in the 11th century, the Persian polymath scholar Abu Rayhan Biruni described the Milky
An open cluster is a group of up to a few thousand stars that were formed from the same giant molecular cloud and have the same age. More than 1,100 open clusters have been discovered within the Milky Way Galaxy, many more are thought to exist, they are loosely bound by mutual gravitational attraction and become disrupted by close encounters with other clusters and clouds of gas as they orbit the galactic center. This can result in a migration to the main body of the galaxy and a loss of cluster members through internal close encounters. Open clusters survive for a few hundred million years, with the most massive ones surviving for a few billion years. In contrast, the more massive globular clusters of stars exert a stronger gravitational attraction on their members, can survive for longer. Open clusters have been found only in spiral and irregular galaxies, in which active star formation is occurring. Young open clusters may be contained within the molecular cloud from which they formed, illuminating it to create an H II region.
Over time, radiation pressure from the cluster will disperse the molecular cloud. About 10% of the mass of a gas cloud will coalesce into stars before radiation pressure drives the rest of the gas away. Open clusters are key objects in the study of stellar evolution; because the cluster members are of similar age and chemical composition, their properties are more determined than they are for isolated stars. A number of open clusters, such as the Pleiades, Hyades or the Alpha Persei Cluster are visible with the naked eye; some others, such as the Double Cluster, are perceptible without instruments, while many more can be seen using binoculars or telescopes. The Wild Duck Cluster, M11, is an example; the prominent open cluster the Pleiades has been recognized as a group of stars since antiquity, while the Hyades forms part of Taurus, one of the oldest constellations. Other open clusters were noted by early astronomers as unresolved fuzzy patches of light; the Roman astronomer Ptolemy mentions the Praesepe, the Double Cluster in Perseus, the Ptolemy Cluster, while the Persian astronomer Al-Sufi wrote of the Omicron Velorum cluster.
However, it would require the invention of the telescope to resolve these nebulae into their constituent stars. Indeed, in 1603 Johann Bayer gave three of these clusters designations; the first person to use a telescope to observe the night sky and record his observations was the Italian scientist Galileo Galilei in 1609. When he turned the telescope toward some of the nebulous patches recorded by Ptolemy, he found they were not a single star, but groupings of many stars. For Praesepe, he found more than 40 stars. Where observers had noted only 6-7 stars in the Pleiades, he found 50. In his 1610 treatise Sidereus Nuncius, Galileo Galilei wrote, "the galaxy is nothing else but a mass of innumerable stars planted together in clusters." Influenced by Galileo's work, the Sicilian astronomer Giovanni Hodierna became the first astronomer to use a telescope to find undiscovered open clusters. In 1654, he identified the objects now designated Messier 41, Messier 47, NGC 2362 and NGC 2451, it was realised as early as 1767 that the stars in a cluster were physically related, when the English naturalist Reverend John Michell calculated that the probability of just one group of stars like the Pleiades being the result of a chance alignment as seen from Earth was just 1 in 496,000.
Between 1774–1781, French astronomer Charles Messier published a catalogue of celestial objects that had a nebulous appearance similar to comets. This catalogue included 26 open clusters. In the 1790s, English astronomer William Herschel began an extensive study of nebulous celestial objects, he discovered. Herschel conceived the idea that stars were scattered across space, but became clustered together as star systems because of gravitational attraction, he divided the nebulae into eight classes, with classes VI through VIII being used to classify clusters of stars. The number of clusters known continued to increase under the efforts of astronomers. Hundreds of open clusters were listed in the New General Catalogue, first published in 1888 by the Danish-Irish astronomer J. L. E. Dreyer, the two supplemental Index Catalogues, published in 1896 and 1905. Telescopic observations revealed two distinct types of clusters, one of which contained thousands of stars in a regular spherical distribution and was found all across the sky but preferentially towards the centre of the Milky Way.
The other type consisted of a sparser population of stars in a more irregular shape. These were found in or near the galactic plane of the Milky Way. Astronomers dubbed the former globular clusters, the latter open clusters; because of their location, open clusters are referred to as galactic clusters, a term, introduced in 1925 by the Swiss-American astronomer Robert Julius Trumpler. Micrometer measurements of the positions of stars in clusters were made as early as 1877 by the German astronomer E. Schönfeld and further pursued by the American astronomer E. E. Barnard prior to his death in 1923. No indication of stellar motion was detected by these efforts. However, in 1918 the Dutch-American astronomer Adriaan van Maanen was able to measure the proper motion of stars in part of the Pleiades cluster by comparing photographic plates taken at different times; as astrometry became more accurate, cluster stars were found to share a common proper motion through space. By comparing the photographic plates of the Pleiades cluster taken in 1918 with images taken in 1943, van