2
$\begingroup$

The March 29, 2024 Veritasium video Why is this number everywhere? is about an apparent prevalence of the number 37 (for at least some people, including ) and in a montage of instances of 37 it shows "The 37 Cluster". Wikipedia's NGC 2169 begins:

NGC 2169 is an open cluster in the Orion constellation. It was possibly discovered by Giovanni Batista Hodierna before 1654 and discovered by William Herschel on October 15, 1784.1 NGC 2169 is at a distance of about 3,600 light years away from Earth. It is nicknamed "The '37' Cluster" due to its striking resemblance to the numerals "37".2 The cluster is composed of components Collinder 38, a I3pn open cluster, and Collinder 83, a III3m open cluster.

1 O'Meara, Stephen James (2007). Deep Sky Companions: Hidden Treasures. Cambridge University Press. p. 180. ISBN 9780521837040.

2 constellation-guide.com's Orion Constellation

Which says only:

37 Cluster (NGC 2169)

NGC 2169 is an open star cluster, approximately 3,600 light years away from the solar system. It has an apparent magnitude of 5.9.

The cluster was originally discovered by the Italian astronomer Giovanni Batista Hodierna in the mid-17th century and then later independently spotted by William Herschel on October 15, 1784. It is sometimes called The 37 Cluster because it resembles the number 37.

So recognition of the cluster dates back centuries, but I'm curious about the origin of its nickname.

Question: Who named "the 37 cluster" or at least made that name widely known via writing?

I'm guessing that neither Hodierna in 1654 nor Herschel in 1784 coined the monicker upon their first sighting, and that it wasn't until it was seen in long exposure photographic plates that the similarity to the number 37 was noticed, since:


Screenshot from March 29, 2024 Veritasium video "Why is this number everywhere?" https://youtu.be/d6iQrh2TK98 showing an image of "The 37 Cluster"

$\endgroup$
3
  • $\begingroup$ Hmm it might be tough to know exactly who made it popular, it could have just became popular through multiple different writings. It read somewhere that the 37 cluster is "a popular target for amateur astronomers", so that could be both a cause or an effect of it being nicknamed the 37 cluster. $\endgroup$
    – DialFrost
    Apr 1 at 13:33
  • $\begingroup$ @DialFrost then again it might not be tough and there could be a first guide to amateur astronomers, or there could be a NASA "image of the day" or a pivotal Sky & Telescope article, or even an astronomical publication! Sadly, I had no success looking for "37 Cluster" in Google ngram Maybe a literature search in Google Scholar? I see that "Deep Sky Observing: The Astronomical Tourist" Coe, Steven R. Published by Springer, 2000 might be a candidate or stepping-stone. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Apr 1 at 22:34
  • $\begingroup$ "The Cambridge Atlas of Herschel Objects" might or might not say something about it as well... $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Apr 1 at 22:47

0

You must log in to answer this question.

Browse other questions tagged .