NGC 2264 – Christmas Tree Cluster

The Chrismas Tree Cluster and the Cone Nebula (not visible here) were both discovered by William Herschel; he discovered the cluster in 1784, and the nebula in 1785.

NGC 2264 is a large, bright cluster easily visible in finder scopes and binoculars. It consists of about 80 stars from 8th magnitude, and spans half a degree. NGC 2264 is embedded in an extensive but tenuous nebulosity, which may be glimpsed with larger telescopes under clear, dark skies. At the south end of the cluster lies the famous “Cone Nebula”, an object that is difficult to detect visually.

The cluster spans some 20 light years, and lies about 2,600 light years away in the constellation of Monoceros. The nebula belongs to a much larger complex, which is currently an active star forming region.


Imaged 19th April 2013 at 20:30
Canon 7D
Canon 70 – 200L @ 200 Piggy-backed on scope
ISO 1600
50 x 20 sec stacked in Deep Sky Stacker

Sky Safari view of NGC 2264


One thought on “NGC 2264 – Christmas Tree Cluster

  1. As mentioned in a reply to your home page, I was active in astronomy as a hobby over 50 years ago, but it’s depth pales by comparison to today’s amateur capabilities (including your wonderful images.) My yellowed notes indicate observing NGC 2264 on January 9, 1961, noting it’s proximity to NGC 2244, and sporting a bright star within it’s boundaries (That would be 15 Mon, about 4.4 Mag.) 8″ Newtonian Reflector, Bergenfield, NJ. (now hopelessly light polluted.) MVSchulze


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