M38 - The Starfish Cluster

Credits: Keith Turnecliff, Long Itchington

Messier 38 (M38), also known as the Starfish Cluster, is an open star cluster located in the northern constellation Auriga.
The cluster lies at a distance of 4,200 light years from Earth. With an apparent magnitude of 7.4, it is invisible to the naked eye. M38 has the designation NGC 1912 in the New General Catalogue.
Messier 38 appears quite large in 10×50 binoculars and binoculars with larger magnification resolve some of the cluster’s stars. 4-inch telescopes show many of the cluster’s stars, mainly concentrated toward the central region and forming an irregular pattern that has been compared to the Greek letter Pi, an irregular arrow and an oblique cross.

Facts about M38 by Keith Turnecliff

The best way to observe Messier 38 is in small or medium-sized telescopes at low magnifications and the best time of year to observe the cluster is during the winter months, when Auriga rises high for northern observers.

This star chart represents the view from Long Itchington for mid January at 10pm.
Credits: Image courtesy of Starry Night Pro Plus 8, researched and implemented by Keith Turnecliff.