The Christmas Tree star cluster (NGC2264) was named for its triangular shape made of young stars, that look like a tree. A bit below that cluster there is Cone Nebula. Bright variable star S Monocerotis is located near the trunk of the Christmas Tree. S Mon is an irregular eruptive variable star that magnitude varies between 4.62 and 4.68. It is a multiple star system with a hot, massive O-type star as a primary component.

The Christmas Tree cluster is a nice view in binoculars and also in telescopes at low power. Cluster stars are very young – about 1 to 4 million years old, and are located about 2,500 light-years away – as well as other items in that area. If you take a closer look into the area between Cone Nebula and Christmas Tree cluster, you may be able to recognize another feature called Stellar Snowflake nebula with its five arms. And the nebula in the upper right part of the Christmas cluster is called Fox Fur.

NGC2264 Christmas Tree cluster area
NGC2264 Christmas Tree cluster area

Full resolution here

I captured the data for this image under the suburban sky with a limiting magnitude of about 5mag using a color camera. It is not the best idea to catch emission nebula under that sky with an OSC camera, however, the transparency was good, and I decided to give it a try. Narrowband imaging is much more convenient under the light-polluted sky, plus it gives better contrast and more detail to the captured data. But the full RGB palette gives a vast variety of hues and shades that are out of reach for narrowband composites. And additionally, reflection nebulae are well defined in RGB images, and barely or not visible in narrowband data.

Clear skies!

Image technical data:

Date: March 2022
Location: Nieborowice, Poland
Telescope: Tecnosky 90/540 Owl triplet
Corrector: TS FF/FR 0.8x
Camera: QHY247C
Mount: iOptron CEM26
Guiding: ASI290MM + Sonnar 135
Exposure: 300x1 minute
Conditions: Bortle 6, transparency good, seeing medium