M29 is a binocular and telescope open cluster that's situated in the highly crowded Milky Way region of Cygnus. The cluster isn't particularly impressive in terms of brightness, number of stars and compactness but certainly worth a look due to its location and unusual shape. It appears like a squashed dipper that loosely resembles the main stars of Ursa Major. Adding to the view is a stunning backdrop of literally thousands of distant Milky Way stars.

M29 was one of Charles Messier original discoveries, which he catalogued on July 29, 1764. He described it as "a cluster of 7 or 8 very small stars below Gamma Cygni". What is surprising in such a rich constellation is that Messier recorded only two deep sky objects, the other being open cluster M39.

Although M29 is unremarkable, it's easy to find since it's positioned just 1.75 degrees south of Sadr (γ Cyg). At mag. +2.23, this is the second brightest star in the constellation. The cluster is best seen from the Northern Hemisphere, where it appears high in the summer sky.

Messier 29 Open Cluster (credit:- Two Micron All Sky Survey)

Finder Chart for M29 (credit:- freestarcharts)

Finder Chart for M29 - pdf format (credit:- freestarcharts)

Finder Chart for M39 (also shown M29) (credit:- freestarcharts)

Finder Chart for M39 (also shown M29) - pdf format (credit:- freestarcharts)

M29 is visible in binoculars but best seen at low to medium powers through telescopes. When viewed through an 80mm (3.1-inch) scope, the stubby big dipper shape of the main stars is clearly visible. Remarkably, despite its prominent location, M29 does stand out against the background "wall" of stars. However, the cluster is small. It covers just 7 arc minutes, which is about a quarter of the diameter of the full Moon. An advantage of such a small apparent size is that it's possible to push up the magnification without the cluster overspilling the eyepiece field of view.

Through larger scopes, M29 appears much the same although more members are visible along with many non-cluster stars. In the vicinity of M29, there is some diffuse nebulosity, which can be detected in images and photographs.

In total M29, contains about 50 member stars of which 6 are brighter than magnitude +9.5. Its distance from Earth is uncertain due to light absorption by surrounding interstellar matter. The current estimate is about 4,000 light-years.

M29 Data Table

Object TypeOpen cluster
Distance (light-years)4,000
Apparent Mag.+7.1
RA (J2000)20h 23m 58s
DEC (J2000)+38d 30m 28s
Apparent Size (arc mins)7.0 x 7.0
Radius (light-years)4.0
Age (years)10 Million
Number of Stars50
Other NameCollinder 422

Sky Highlights - July 2017

The Planets
This Month's Guide

Algol Minima
Algol eclipse dates and times for July

Meteor Shower
Southern Delta Aquariids (Aquarids) meteor shower peaks on July 29

Northern Hemisphere
West:- Mercury (mag. -0.5 to +0.3) (second half of month)
Southwest:- Jupiter (mag. -2.0)
South:- Saturn (mag. +0.2)
West:- Jupiter
South:- Saturn
East:- Neptune (mag. +7.8)
Southwest:- Saturn
South:- Neptune
Southeast:- Uranus (mag. +5.8)
East:- Venus (mag. -4.1)

Southern Hemisphere
West:- Mercury (second half of month)
Northwest:- Jupiter
East:- Saturn
West:- Jupiter
North:- Saturn
East:- Neptune
West:- Saturn
North:- Neptune
Northeast:- Venus, Uranus

Deep Sky

Small telescopes:-
Messier 13 - M13 - Great Hercules Globular Cluster
Messier 92 - M92 - Globular Cluster
Messier 11 - M11 - The Wild Duck Cluster (Open Cluster)
Messier 7 - M7 - The Ptolemy Cluster (Open Cluster)
Messier 6 - M6 - The Butterfly Cluster (Open Cluster)
Messier 4 - M4 - Globular Cluster
Messier 8 - M8 - Lagoon Nebula (Emission Nebula)
Messier 16 - M16 - Eagle Nebula (Emission Nebula with Open Cluster)
Messier 20 - M20 - Trifid Nebula (Emission and Reflection Nebula)

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