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Messier 34 - Open Cluster in Perseus

Updated: Jun 1

Messier 34 is an open star cluster that is located about 1,500 light-years away in the constellation of Perseus. That makes this deep-sky object one of the closest star clusters to Earth!

Despite M34 being a large, bright object in the Messier Catalog, it is not a very popular target for beginner astrophotographers. Why is that, exactly? It may be perhaps because it is not a widely known object, and it doesn't offer much to the eye aside from sparse, beautiful blue stars. It also doesn't have a cool nickname like many other Messier objects. Take a look at other star cluster astrophotography we've captured like Messier 37 and Messier 48.


Camera: Canon 7D Mark II

Telescope: 8" Newtonian Astrograph

Mount: Motorized Equatorial Mount

Coma: Baader MPCC Coma Corrector MkIII

Guiding: 50mm Guide Scope

Processing: Pixinsight


Total Exposure Time: 1 hour

Exposure Time per frame: 3 minutes

20 lights - 15 Darks - 15 Bias

ISO: 800


How to Locate Messier 34

M34 lies in the constellation of Perseus, not far from the Andromeda Galaxy (M31) and Triangulum Galaxy (M33).

It can be seen with binoculars and any size telescope and is pretty easy to find in the night sky. Under very dark skies, you may be able to spot this cluster with the naked eye, assuming you have good vision.

Cool Facts

  • At a distance of only 1,500 light-years away

  • One of the nearest Messier Object from Earth

  • About 200 million years old

Download star cluster raw data: Practice processing with our Pleiades raw data.


Final Thoughts

This open cluster in Perseus may not be very popular for astrophotographers, but the colors and bright stars make for a wonderful image! The best part? Just one hour is enough to get this kind of result. If you are looking for a simple target or want to check off all the Messier objects like us, try imaging Messier 34.

Consider purchasing our Messier Catalog Workbook to keep a list of targets on hand at all times and learn about each deep-sky object. You can purchase the digital copy for $18!

Get more information about this book by reading our Messier Workbook blog post.

Check out our other astrophotography books, too!

Clear Skies,

Galactic Hunter

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