Discovered 1681 by Gottfried Kirch.
The Wild Duck Cluster is possibly the most compact "open" star cluster that can been observed in amateur telescopes. Its name is derived from the "V" shape arrangement of some of the prominent stars along its perimeter. Some say it resembles the flight of a flock of ducks, although in my opinion one needs some imagination to see this. The cluster contains an estimated 2900 stars and lies about 6,000 light years from the earth. The estimated age of the cluster ranges from 220 million to 500 million years. One of the more recent estimates places its age at 250 million years. It is receding from our solar system at a speed of 22 km/sec. The Wild Duck can be seen in binoculars and is easily observed with modest amateur telescopes.
This image was a quick first light test capture using Preston's recently aquired SBIG STL-11K camera. The stack of exposures consisted of single exposures of 300 seconds through each of the LRGB filters. No flats or darks were obtained. Processing was accomplished using CCDStack and Photoshop CS5.