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The population in the background of open clusters: tracer of the Norma-Cygnus arm
We present colour-magnitude diagrams of open clusters, located in therange 112° < l < 252°, manifesting stellar populations inthe background of clusters. Some of the populations are found to belocated beyond the Perseus arm and may be the part of the Norma-Cygnus(outer) arm. The outer arm seems to be continued from l ~ 120° to~235°. The background populations follow the downward warp of theGalactic plane around l ~ 240°.

Stellar Rotation in Young Clusters. II. Evolution of Stellar Rotation and Surface Helium Abundance
We derive the effective temperatures and gravities of 461 OB stars in 19young clusters by fitting the Hγ profile in their spectra. We usesynthetic model profiles for rotating stars to develop a method toestimate the polar gravity for these stars, which we argue is a usefulindicator of their evolutionary status. We combine these results withprojected rotational velocity measurements obtained in a previous paperon these same open clusters. We find that the more massive B starsexperience a spin-down as predicted by the theories for the evolution ofrotating stars. Furthermore, we find that the members of binary starsalso experience a marked spin-down with advanced evolutionary state dueto tidal interactions. We also derive non-LTE-corrected heliumabundances for most of the sample by fitting the He Iλλ4026, 4387, 4471 lines. A large number of heliumpeculiar stars are found among cooler stars withTeff<23,000 K. The analysis of the high-mass stars (8.5Msolar

Stellar Rotation in Young Clusters. I. Evolution of Projected Rotational Velocity Distributions
Open clusters offer us the means to study stellar properties in sampleswith well-defined ages and initial chemical composition. Here we presenta survey of projected rotational velocities for a large sample of mainlyB-type stars in young clusters to study the time evolution of therotational properties of massive stars. The survey is based onmoderate-resolution spectra made with the WIYN 3.5 m and CTIO 4 mtelescopes and Hydra multi-object spectrographs, and the target starsare members of 19 young open clusters with an age range of approximately6-73 Myr. We made fits of the observed lines He I λλ4026,4387, 4471, and Mg II λ4481, using model theoretical profiles tofind projected rotational velocities for a total of 496 OB stars. Wefind that there are fewer slow rotators among the cluster B-type starsrelative to nearby B stars in the field. We present evidence consistentwith the idea that the more massive B stars (M>9 Msolar)spin down during their main-sequence phase. However, we also find thatthe rotational velocity distribution appears to show an increase in thenumbers of rapid rotators among clusters with ages of 10 Myr and higher.These rapid rotators appear to be distributed between the zero age andterminal age main-sequence locations in the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram,and thus only a minority of them can be explained as the result of aspin-up at the terminal age main sequence due to core contraction. Wesuggest instead that some of these rapid rotators may have been spun upthrough mass transfer in close binary systems.

Kinematics of the Open Cluster System in the Galaxy
Absolute proper motions and radial velocities of 202 open clusters inthe solar neighborhood, which can be used as tracers of the Galacticdisk, are used to investigate the kinematics of the Galaxy in the solarvicinity, including the mean heliocentric velocity components(u1,u2,u3) of the open cluster system,the characteristic velocity dispersions(σ1,σ2,σ3), Oortconstants (A,B) and the large-scale radial motion parameters (C,D) ofthe Galaxy. The results derived from the observational data of propermotions and radial velocities of a subgroup of 117 thin disk young openclusters by means of a maximum likelihood algorithm are:(u1,u2,u3) =(-16.1+/-1.0,-7.9+/-1.4,-10.4+/-1.5) km s-1,(σ1,σ2,σ3) =(17.0+/-0.7,12.2+/-0.9,8.0+/-1.3) km s-1,(A,B) =(14.8+/-1.0,-13.0+/-2.7) km s-1 kpc-1, and (C,D) =(1.5+/-0.7,-1.2+/-1.5) km s-1 k pc-1. A discussionon the results and comparisons with what was obtained by other authorsis given.

Effects of metallicity, star-formation conditions, and evolution in B and Be stars. I. Large Magellanic Cloud, field of NGC 2004
Aims.To statistically study the effects of the metallicity,star-formation conditions, and evolution on the behaviour of massivestars and, more particularly, of B and Be stars, we observed largesamples of stars in the Magellanic Clouds for the first time. In thisarticle we present the first part of this study. Methods:.Spectroscopic observations of hot stars belonging to the young clusterLMC-NGC 2004 and its surrounding region were carried out with theVLT-GIRAFFE facilities in MEDUSA mode. We determined the fundamentalparameters (T_eff, log~g, V sin i, and radial velocity) for all B and Bestars in the sample thanks to a code developed in our group. The effectof fast rotation (stellar flattening and gravitational darkening) aretaken into account in this study. We also determined the age of observedclusters. We then compared the mean V sin i obtained for field andcluster B and Be stars in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) with the onesin the Milky Way (MW). Results: .We find, in particular, that Bestars rotate faster in the LMC than in the MW, in the field as well asin clusters. We discuss the relations between V sin i, metallicity,star-formation conditions, and stellar evolution by comparing the LMCwith the MW. We conclude that Be stars began their main sequence lifewith an initial rotational velocity higher than the one for B stars. Itis probable that only part of the B stars, those with a sufficientinitial rotational velocity, can become Be stars. This result mayexplain the differences in the proportion of Be stars in clusters withsimilar ages.

Spiral structure of the third galactic quadrant and the solution to the Canis Major debate
With the discovery of the Sagittarius dwarf spheroidal, a galaxy caughtin the process of merging with the Milky Way, the hunt for other suchaccretion events has become a very active field of astrophysicalresearch. The identification of a stellar ring-like structure inMonoceros, spanning more than 100°, and the detection of anoverdensity of stars in the direction of the constellation of CanisMajor (CMa), apparently associated to the ring, has led to thewidespread belief that a second galaxy being cannibalized by the MilkyWay had been found. In this scenario, the overdensity would be theremaining core of the disrupted galaxy and the ring would be the tidaldebris left behind. However, unlike the Sagittarius dwarf, which is wellbelow the Galactic plane and whose orbit, and thus tidal tail, is nearlyperpendicular to the plane of the Milky Way, the putative CMa galaxy andring are nearly co-planar with the Galactic disc. This severelycomplicates the interpretation of observations. In this Letter, we showthat our new description of the Milky Way leads to a completelydifferent picture. We argue that the Norma-Cygnus spiral arm defines adistant stellar ring crossing Monoceros and the overdensity is simply aprojection effect of looking along the nearby local arm. Our perspectivesheds new light on a very poorly known region, the third Galacticquadrant, where CMa is located.

Proper motion determination of open clusters based on the UCAC2 catalogue
We present the kinematics of hundreds of open clusters, based on theUCAC2 Catalogue positions and proper motions. Membership probabilitieswere obtained for the stars in the cluster fields by applying astatistical method uses stellar proper motions. All open clusters withknown distance were investigated, and for 75 clusters this is the firstdetermination of the mean proper motion. The results, including the DSSimages of the cluster's fields with the kinematic members marked, areincorporated in the Open Clusters Catalogue supported on line by ourgroup.

The Evolutionary Status of Be Stars: Results from a Photometric Study of Southern Open Clusters
Be stars are a class of rapidly rotating B stars with circumstellardisks that cause Balmer and other line emission. There are threepossible reasons for the rapid rotation of Be stars: they may have beenborn as rapid rotators, spun up by binary mass transfer, or spun upduring the main-sequence (MS) evolution of B stars. To test the variousformation scenarios, we have conducted a photometric survey of 55 openclusters in the southern sky. Of these, five clusters are probably notphysically associated groups and our results for two other clusters arenot reliable, but we identify 52 definite Be stars and an additional 129Be candidates in the remaining clusters. We use our results to examinethe age and evolutionary dependence of the Be phenomenon. We find anoverall increase in the fraction of Be stars with age until 100 Myr, andBe stars are most common among the brightest, most massive B-type starsabove the zero-age main sequence (ZAMS). We show that a spin-up phase atthe terminal-age main sequence (TAMS) cannot produce the observeddistribution of Be stars, but up to 73% of the Be stars detected mayhave been spun-up by binary mass transfer. Most of the remaining Bestars were likely rapid rotators at birth. Previous studies havesuggested that low metallicity and high cluster density may also favorBe star formation. Our results indicate a possible increase in thefraction of Be stars with increasing cluster distance from the Galacticcenter (in environments of decreasing metallicity). However, the trendis not significant and could be ruled out due to the intrinsic scatterin our data. We also find no relationship between the fraction of Bestars and cluster density.

Near infrared photometry of the young clusters NGC 1960, NGC 2453 and NGC 2384
Infrared observations of young star clusters provide vital clues to thestar formation process and evolution of stars. This brief report on mythesis gives a brief description of the observations and analysis of theyoung star clusters NGC 1960, NGC 2453 and NGC 2384 observed in the nearinfrared bands at the Mt Abu Infrared Observatory, Gurushikhar inFebruary 2000. Estimates of distance and age for these clusters for thefirst time using JHK data have been obtained. The colour-magnitudediagrams of these clusters have been extended to the fainter end as faras possible. The observed data was compared to that obtained by 2MASS. Amore detailed paper will be published elsewhere.

Detection of a Young Stellar Population in the Background of Open Clusters in the Third Galactic Quadrant
We report the detection of a young stellar population (<=100 Myr) inthe background of nine young open clusters belonging to a homogenoussample of 30 star clusters in the third Galactic quadrant (at217deg<=l<=260deg). Deep and accurate UBVRIphotometry allows us to measure model-independent age and distance forthe clusters and the background population with high confidence. Thispopulation is exactly the same population (the blue plume) recentlydetected in three intermediate-age open clusters and suggested to be a<=1-2 Gyr old population belonging to the Canis Major (CMa)overdensity (Bellazzini et al.; Martínez-Delgado et al.).However, we find that the young population in those three clusters andin six clusters of our sample follows the pattern of the Norma-Cygnusspiral arm as defined by CO clouds remarkably well, while in the otherthree program clusters it lies in the Perseus arm. We finally provideone example (out of 21) of a cluster that does not show any backgroundpopulation, demonstrating that this population is not ubiquitous towardCMa.

Astrophysical parameters of Galactic open clusters
We present a catalogue of astrophysical data for 520 Galactic openclusters. These are the clusters for which at least three most probablemembers (18 on average) could be identified in the ASCC-2.5, a catalogueof stars based on the Tycho-2 observations from the Hipparcos mission.We applied homogeneous methods and algorithms to determine angular sizesof cluster cores and coronae, heliocentric distances, mean propermotions, mean radial velocities, and ages. For the first time we derivedistances for 200 clusters, radial velocities for 94 clusters, and agesof 196 clusters. This homogeneous new parameter set is compared withearlier determinations, where we find, in particular, that the angularsizes were systematically underestimated in the literature.

Near infrared photometry of the young clusters NGC 1960, NGC 2453 and NGC 2384
The present paper gives a brief description of the observations andanalysis of the young star clusters NGC 1960, NGC 2453 and NGC 2384observed in the near infrared bands at the Mt Abu Infrared Observatory,Gurushikhar in February 2000. Estimates of distance and age for theseclusters for the first time using JHK data have been obtained. Thecolour-magnitude diagrams of these clusters have been extended to thefainter end as far as possible. The observed data was found to agreereasonably well with that obtained by 2MASS. A more detailed paper willbe published elsewhere.

On the determination of age and mass functions of stars in young open star clusters from the analysis of their luminosity functions
We construct the observed luminosity functions of the remote young openclusters NGC 2383, 2384, 4103, 4755, 7510 and Hogg 15 from CCDobservations of them. The observed LFs are corrected for field starcontamination determined with the help of a Galactic star count model.In the case of Hogg 15 and NGC 2383 we also consider the additionalcontamination from neighbouring clusters NGC 4609 and 2384,respectively. These corrections provide a realistic pattern of clusterLF in the vicinity of the main-sequence (MS) turn-on point and atfainter magnitudes reveal the so-called H-feature arising as a result ofthe transition of the pre-MS phase to the MS, which is dependent on thecluster age. The theoretical LFs are constructed representing a clusterpopulation model with continuous star formation for a short time-scaleand a power-law initial mass function (IMF), and these are fitted to theobserved LF. As a result, we are able to determine for each cluster aset of parameters describing the cluster population (the age, durationof star formation, IMF slope and percentage of field starcontamination). It is found that in spite of the non-monotonic behaviourof observed LFs, cluster IMFs can be described as power-law functionswith slopes similar to Salpeter's value. The present main-sequenceturn-on cluster ages are several times lower than those derived from thefitting of theoretical isochrones to the turn-off region of the uppermain sequences.

Near Infrared Photometry of the Young Star Cluster NGC 2384
This work involves near infrared photometry of the young cluster NGC2384. Observations were taken at the Mt Abu Infrared Observatory usingthe NIC-MOS3 detector in February 2000. The distance to the cluster isobtained as 2187 pc. The HR diagram for this cluster has been extendedto MJ 5m and the gaps studied. The age has been determined as 40 Myr.The luminosity function for NGC 2384 is plotted.

Proper Motions of Open Star Clusters and the Rotation Rate of the Galaxy
The mean proper motions of 167 Galactic open clusters withradial-velocity measurements are computed from the data of the Tycho-2catalog using kinematic and photometric cluster membership criteria. Theresulting catalog is compared to the results of other studies. The newproper motions are used to infer the Galactic rotation rate at the solarcircle, which is found to be ω0=+24.6±0.8 km s-1 kpc-1.Analysis of the dependence of the dispersion of ω0 estimates onheliocentric velocity showed that even the proper motions of clusterswith distances r>3 kpc contain enough useful information to be usedin kinematic studies demonstrating that the determination of propermotions is quite justified even for very distant clusters.

Morphological analysis of open clusters' propertiesII. Relationships projected onto the galactic plane
A morphological analysis study of open clusters' properties has beenachieved for a sample of 160 UBVCCD open star clusters of approximately128,000 stars near the galactic plane. The data was obtained and reducedfrom using the same reduction procedures, which makes this catalogue thelargest homogeneous source of open clusters' parameters.

Integrated photometric characteristics of galactic open star clusters
Integrated UBVRI photometric parameters of 140 galactic open clustershave been computed. Integrated I(V-R)0 and I(V-I)0colours as well as integrated parameters for 71 star clusters have beenobtained for the first time. These, in combination with published data,altogether 352 objects, are used to study the integrated photometriccharacteristics of the galactic open clusters. The I(MV)values range from -9.0 to -1.0 mag corresponding to a range in totalmass of the star clusters from ~ 25 to 4*E4 Msun.The integrated colours have a relatively narrow range, e.g., I(B-V){_0}varies from -0.4 to 1.2 mag. The scatter in integrated colours at agiven integrated magnitude can be understood in terms of differences infraction of red giants/supergiants in the clusters. The observedintegrated magnitudes and colours agree with the synthetic ones, exceptthe dependences of I(V-R)0 and I(V-I)0 colours forclusters younger than ~ 100 Myrs and also of the integrated magnitudesof oldest clusters. The large sample provides the most accurate agedependence of integrated magnitudes and colours determined so far. Theluminosity function of the I(MV) has a peak around -3.5 magand its slope indicates that only ~ 1% of the open clusters in thegalactic disc are brighter than I(MV)=-11 mag. No variationhas been found of integrated magnitude with galactocentric distance andmetallicity.

The blue to red supergiant ratio in young clusters at various metallicities
We present new determinations of the blue to red supergiant ratio (B/R)in young open clusters at various metallicities. For this purpose, weexamine the HR diagrams of 45 clusters in the Galaxy and of 4 clustersin the Magellanic Clouds. The identification of supergiants is based onspectroscopic measurements (with photometric counts to check theresults). The new counts confirm the increase of the B/R ratio when themetallicity increases with the following normalized relation:(B/R)/((B/R)sun) =~ 0.05* e3(Z)/(Zsun)}, where Zsun=0.02 and(B/R)sun is the value of B/R at Zsun which dependson the definition of B and R and on the age interval considered (e.g.for spectroscopic counts including clusters with log age between 6.8 and7.5, (B/R)sun =~ 3 when B includes O, B and A supergiants).

Morphological analysis of open clusters' propertiesI. Properties' estimations
A sample of 160 UBVCCD observations of open star clusters near thegalactic plane has been studied, and a catalogue of their propertiesobtained. The main photometrical properties have been re-estimated selfconsistently and the results have been compared with those of Lynga[Lynga, G., 1987. Catalog of Open Cluster Data, 5th Edition, StellarData Centers, Observatoire de Strasbourg, France].

Open clusters in the third galactic quadrant. I. Photometry
We have performed a photometric survey of open clusters in the thirdGalactic quadrant in order to study the star formation history andspatial structure in the Canis Major-Puppis-Vela region. In this paperwe describe a catalogue of CCD U BV RI photometry of approximately 65000 stars in the fields of 30 open clusters. The data were obtained andreduced using the same telescope, the same reduction procedures, and thesame standard photometric system, which makes this catalogue the largesthomogeneous source of open cluster photometry so far. In subsequentpapers of this series, colour-colour and colour-magnitude diagrams willbe presented which, amongst other uses, will allow the determination ofan homogeneous set of cluster reddenings, distances, and ages that willconstitute the observational basis for our studies of the spatialstructure and star formation history in the third Galactic quadrant.

Spectroscopic Binaries in Young Open Clusters
We have analysed the binarity and multiplicity characteristics of 120O-type stars in 22 very young open clusters and found marked differencesbetween the "rich" (N >= 6 O-type stars and primaries) and "poor" (N= 1) clusters. In the rich clusters, the binary frequencies vary between14% (1 SB among 7 stars) and 80% (8 SBs among 10 stars). Multiplesystems seem not to be frequent and stars are spread all over thecluster area. In poor clusters, the binary frequency of the O-typeobjects is nearly 100%, with orbital periods around 3 days. Severalbinaries are also eclipsing. Additional companions are always present.They form either hierarchical multiple stars or trapezium systems. Thesemassive multiple systems are generally found close to the clustercenter, although there are exceptions.

Statistical parallaxes and kinematical parameters of classical Cepheids and young star clusters
The statistical-parallax method is applied for the first time to spacevelocities of 270 classical Cepheids with proper motions adopted fromHIPPARCOS (1997) and TRC (Hog et al. 1998) catalogs and distances basedon the period-luminosity relation by Berdnikov et al. (1996). Thedistance scale of short-period Cepheids (with periods less than 9 days)is shown to require an average correction of 15-20%, whereas statisticalparallaxes of Cepheids with periods > 9 days are found to agree wellwith photometric distances. It is shown that the luminosities ofshort-period Cepheids must have been underestimated partly due to thecontamination of this subsample by a substantial (20 to 40%) fraction offirst-overtone pulsators. The statistical-parallax technique is alsoapplied for the first time to 117 open clusters younger than 100 millionyears and with proper motions reduced to the HIPPARCOS reference system.It is concluded that a 0.12-0.15 mag increase of the distance scales ofopen clusters and Cepheids would be sufficient to reconcile thestatistical-parallax results inferred for these two types of objects.Such approach leads to an LMC distance modulus of less than 18.40 mag,which agrees, within the errors, with the short distance scale for RRLyrae variables and is at variance with the conclusions by Feast andCatchpole (1998) and Feast et al. (1998), who argue that the LMCdistance modulus should be increased to 18.70 mag. The distance scalebased on the Cepheid period-luminosity relation by Berdnikov and Efremov(1985) seems to be a good compromise. Extragalactic distances, whichrely on long-period Cepheids, seem to require no substantial correction.In addition to statistical parallaxes, kinematical parameters have beeninferred for the combined sample consisting of Cepheids andopen-clusters: solar-motion components (U0 ,V0,W0) = (9, 12, 7) km/s (+/- 1 km/s); velocity-ellipsoid axes(σU; σV; σW) = (15.0,10.3, 8.5) km/s (+/- 1 km/s); the angular velocity of rotation of thesubsystem, ω0 = 28.7 +/- 1 km/s/kpc, the Oort constantA = 17.4 +/- 1.5 km/s, and the second derivative of angular velocity,⋰ω0= 1.15 +/- 0.2 km/s/kpc3.

Multicolor CCD Photometry and Stellar Evolutionary Analysis of NGC 1907, NGC 1912, NGC 2383, NGC 2384, and NGC 6709 Using Synthetic Color-Magnitude Diagrams
We present the first CCD photometric observations of NGC 2383 and NGC2384 in B, V, R, and I, NGC 1912, NGC 6709 in B, V, and I and NGC 1907in B and V passbands, reaching down to a limiting magnitude of V~20 magfor ~3300 stars put together. The results of the spectroscopicobservations of 43 bright stars in the field of NGC 1912, NGC 2383, NGC2384, and NGC 6709 are also presented. The color-magnitude diagrams(CMDs) of the clusters in V versus B-V, V versus V-R, and V versus V-Iare presented. The distances and reddening to these clusters aredetermined using the cluster CMDs. The distances to the clusters NGC1907, NGC 1912, NGC 2383, NGC 2384, and NGC 6709 are 1785+/-260,1820+/-265, 3340+/-490, 2925+/-430, and 1190+/-175 pc, respectively.Some gaps in the cluster main sequence have been identified. We havecompared the observed color-magnitude diagrams of these four openclusters with the synthetic ones derived from one classical and twoovershoot stellar evolutionary models. Overshoot models estimate olderages for clusters when compared to the classical models. The age of theclusters estimated using the isochrones of Bertelli et al. are 400, 250,400, 20, and 315 Myr for the clusters NGC 1907, NGC 1912, NGC 2383, NGC2384, and NGC 6709, respectively. A comparison of the syntheticcolor-magnitude diagrams with the observed ones indicates that theovershoot models should be preferred. The comparison of integratedluminosity functions do not clearly indicate as to which model is to bepreferred. The values of the mass function slopes estimated for theclusters are x=1.7+/-0.15 for NGC 1912 (mass range: 1.7-3.9 M_solar) andNGC 6709 (1.7-3.4 M_solar), x=1.3+/-0.15 for NGC 2383 (1.7-3.1 M_solar),and x=1.0+/-0.15 for NGC 2384 (2.0-14.0). The present age estimates showthat the closely located cluster pair NGC 1912 + NGC 1907 have similarages, indicating that they may have born together, making them a goodcandidate to be a binary open cluster.

The Bordeaux and Valinhos CCD meridian circles
A first CCD 512x 512 camera working in scan mode (declination field 14')was mounted in 1994 on the Bordeaux CCD meridian circle. After a testingperiod, this camera was installed on the Valinhos CCD meridian circle(near S\ ao Paulo, Brazil), as part of a collaboration between BordeauxObservatory and the Instituto Astronomico e Geofisico of S\ ao Paulo. Asecond improved CCD 1024x 1024 camera, with a declination field of 28',was installed on the Bordeaux instrument in June 1996. The mean internalprecision of a single observation is about 0.04'' in both coordinatesfor 9<= V<= 14. In the same magnitude range, magnitudes can alsobe obtained with an internal precision of about 0.05 mag. Bothinstruments can participate efficiently in extending the Hipparcos-Tycho frame, during the next decade. Among other duties, the BordeauxCCD meridian circle is being used since January 1997 for completing theMéridien 2000 project. The characteristics of both instrumentsand some results obtained with them are presented in this paper.

Young star clusters of our galaxy and the Large Magellanic Cloud as test for stellar evolutionary models.
Not Available

Absolute proper motions of 181 young open clusters.
Not Available

Probable binary open star clusters in the Galaxy.
The existence of double/binary clusters in the Magellanic Clouds isfairly well established, whereas only one such pair, h + χ Persei,is known in the Galaxy. From the catalogues of open clusters of theGalaxy, we have identified 18 probable pairs of clusters (with knowndistances), with spatial separations less than 20pc. The tidaldisruption timescales for these pairs, due to Galactic differentialrotation are calculated, using cluster data where available or byassuming typical values. In some cases, these timescales are larger thanthe average open cluster lifetime, =~10^8^yr. About 8% of open clustersappear to be members of binary systems, and hence binary cluster systemsmay not be very uncommon in the Galaxy.

Catalogue of blue stragglers in open clusters.
An extensive survey of blue straggler candidates in galactic openclusters of both hemispheres is presented. The blue stragglers wereselected considering their positions in the cluster colour-magnitudediagrams.They were categorized according to the accuracy of thephotometric measurements and membership probabilities. An amount of 959blue straggler candidates in 390 open clusters of all ages wereidentified and classified. A set of basic data is given for everycluster and blue straggler. The information is arranged in the form of acatalogue. Blue stragglers are found in clusters of all ages. Thepercentage of clusters with blue stragglers generally grows with age andrichness of the clusters. The mean ratio of the number of bluestragglers to the number of cluster main sequence stars is approximatelyconstant up to a cluster age of about 10^8.6^ yr and rises for olderclusters. In general, the blue stragglers show a remarkable degree ofcentral concentration.

Integrated photometric properties of open clusters
Galactic open clusters provide an abundant sample of stellar aggregatesof various sizes, ages and metal abundances, apt to constitute atemplate for comparison with star systems in other galaxies. In thispaper we present and discuss a standard methodology to synthesize U,B,Vfluxes and colours, and apply it to a set of 138 open clusters. Resultsare compared with previous ones available in the literature. We wereable to calibrate a mass-luminosity relation by which we evaluated themass of ~400 open clusters, leading to a well defined present-day massfunction. The number-complete sample of galactic open clusters presentedin Battinelli & Capuzzo-Dolcetta (1991) is enlarged of a 15%.

Topography of the Galactic disk - Z-structure and large-scale star formation
A 3D morphological description of the Galactic disk defined by the youngstellar population is delineated using a sample of young open clusterswith cataloged distances and treated with Kriging techniques. The valuesof the positional variable Z for the cluster sample are considered asprospectings of the displacement of the Galactic disk in respect to theequator in the plane. The Kriging technique is described with emphasison its application to the automatic cartography problem. A view of theGalactic disk in a region of about 3 kpc around the sun emerges fromthis treatment and shows a trough-peak structure with four maindepressions as the more striking features. The most prominentdepression, named Big Dent, is apparent at about 1.8 kpc in anapproximately 240-deg direction. It has an elliptical shape with axissizes of 1.5 and 3 kpc, reaching a Z value of 200 pc below the formalGalactic plane. Two-dimensional sections across some selected directionsof the topography show profiles in good agreement with previousobservational studies based on different object samples.

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Observation and Astrometry data

Constellation:Canis Major
Right ascension:07h25m12.00s
Apparent magnitude:7.4

Catalogs and designations:
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NGC 2000.0NGC 2384

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