December- Pleiades, Beta Persei, M34
MESSIER 45 - THE PLEIADES
Behold the celestial sensation, the Pleiades, stealing the cosmic limelight as the most renowned and frequently captured star cluster in the night sky. These stellar gems have been closely observed since ancient times, earning them the moniker of the Seven Sisters, though, truth be told, most sky gazers can only spot six of these luminous dancers without the aid of instruments. The Pleiades, appearing expansive in our sky, beckon the use of binoculars or a telescope with minimal magnification for an optimal experience.
Modest 7x35 binoculars reveal many of the fainter stars near their brighter counterparts. Using 10x50s will also provide a fine view. Larger binoculars can can rival or even surpass the view through a telescope.
BETA PERSEI - ALGOL
Algol stands out as a prominent exemplar of variable stars in the expansive night sky. Its observational appeal lies in its consistent visibility to the naked eye, coupled with a brief cycle of approximately 2.8673 days. Maintaining a typical magnitude of 2.1, on par with its cosmic companion Almach, Algol experiences a distinct dimming phenomenon during minima, reducing its luminosity to magnitude 3.4. This places it in close luminous proximity to its neighbor Misam (Kappa Persei), positioned to the north with a magnitude of 3.8. Algol's distinctive characteristics, encompassing its periodic variability and luminosity correlations with neighboring celestial bodies, underscore its significance within the realm of variable stars.
Messier 34 is easily observable using binoculars, conveniently situated in the same field of view as Algol, a mere five degrees to the east. When viewed through a telescope, you'll witness a cluster that is relatively sparse, reminiscent of the Beehive, with various bright double stars scattered throughout the field. Notably, be on the lookout for a prominent pair of stars in the eastern section and a row of three double stars located at its center.