Tonight’s New Moon makes way for M34

With the New Moon out of the sky, tonight is the perfect night to hunt down some of autumn's best deep-sky gems.
By | Published: November 7, 2018 | Last updated on May 18, 2023
The open cluster M34, seen in the above image from November 2005, contains a host of bright stars packed into a relatively small area.
Ole Nielsen/Wikimedia Commons
 11/7/2018New Moon occurs at 11:02 a.m. EST. At its new phase, the Moon crosses the sky with the Sun and so remains hidden in our star’s glare. With the Moon out of the night sky, it’s a perfect time to explore some deep-sky objects.

One of autumn’s best, the open star cluster M34, lurks just 5° west-northwest of the variable star Algol. You can spot the 5th-magnitude cluster with your naked eye from a dark site, and it’s impressive whether you view it through binoculars or a telescope.

M34 holds 10 stars brighter than 9th magnitude spread over an area 0.6° in diameter. A 4-inch scope reveals three dozen members glowing between 8th and 12th magnitude.

To find more objects worth exploring these autumn nights, see “November’s 50 finest deep-sky objects” in the November issue of Astronomy.

For more great observing targets to track down, check out our weekly roundup.