M67 - The King Cobra Cluster
Credits: Keith Turnecliff
Messier 67 (M67), nicknamed the King Cobra Cluster, is an open cluster located in the northern constellation Cancer, the Crab.
The cluster has an apparent magnitude of 6.1 and lies at an approximate distance of 2,610 to 2,930 light years from Earth. It has the designation NGC 2682 in the New General Catalogue. Messier 67 is one of the oldest known open clusters and the single oldest open cluster listed by Messier in his catalogue. The estimated age of M67 is in the range from 3.2 to 5 billion years. The few open clusters that are known to be older are not as close to Earth as M67.
Facts about M67 by Keith Turnecliff
With an apparent diameter of 30 arc minutes, M67 appears roughly the same size as the full Moon. Small 10×50 binoculars show the cluster as an elongated patch of light, while small telescopes reveal its brightest stars. 6-inch and 8-inch instruments resolve dozens of stars, while 12-inch telescopes reveal about 100 individual stars in the cluster. The best time of year to observe M67 from northern latitudes is during the late winter and early spring.