Great Bird Cluster (NGC 2301)

NGC 2301
NGC 2301: Section of DSS2. Here could be your picture. [147]


This open cluster was discovered by William Herschel on 27 December 1786 and listed as IV 27. He described it as «a very beautiful cluster of much compressed small and large stars of many sizes, above 20' diameter.» [464] John Herschel observed it four times and listed it as h 413. On 27 January 1832 he noted: «Double star in the chief group of a prety rich coarse cluster, not very compressed. Broken into 3 groups. The south preceding group is the richest.» [466]

NGC 2301 received the nickname «Great Bird Cluster» by astronomer and author Phil Harrington, because the pattern resembles a bird in flight. Its wings are formed by the string of stars, with a three-sided body. [692]

Physical Properties

Revised+Historic NGC/IC Version 22/9, © 2022 Dr. Wolfgang Steinicke [277]
Designation NGC 2301
Type OCL (I3m)
Right Ascension (J2000.0) 06h 51m 45.2s
Declination (J2000.0) +00° 27' 33"
Diameter 15 arcmin
Visual magnitude 6.0 mag
Metric Distance 0.858 kpc
Dreyer Description Cl, Ri, L, iF, st L & S
Identification, Remarks WH VI 27; h 413; GC 1465; OCL 540

Finder Chart

The open cluster NGC 2301 is located in the constellation Monoceros. The best observation time is October to March, when it is highest at night.

Finder Chart Great Bird Cluster (NGC 2301)
Great Bird Cluster (NGC 2301) in constellation Monoceros. Charts created using SkySafari 6 Pro and STScI Digitized Sky Survey. Limiting magnitudes: Constellation chart ~6.5 mag, DSS2 close-ups ~20 mag. [149, 160]

Objects Within a Radius of 15°


  • [147] Aladin Lite;
  • [149] SkySafari 6 Pro, Simulation Curriculum;
  • [160] The STScI Digitized Sky Survey;
  • [277] «Historische Deep-Sky Kataloge» von Dr. Wolfgang Steinicke; (2021-02-17)
  • [464] «Catalogue of a second thousand of new nebulae and clusters of stars; with a few introductory remarks on the construction of the heavens» William Herschel, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, 1 January 1789; DOI:10.1098/rstl.1789.0021
  • [466] «Observations of nebulæ and clusters of stars, made at Slough, with a twenty-feet reflector, between the years 1825 and 1833» John Frederick William Herschel, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, 1 January 1833, Pages: 359-505; DOI:10.1098/rstl.1833.0021
  • [692] DOCdb: Deep Sky Observer's Companion – the online database;