Open star clusters are widely distributed in our galaxy and represent a loose collection of stars which number from a
few dozen to a few hundred stars and are weakly-held gravitationally. Perhaps the three most famous such open clusters
are the Pleiades (M45) in Taurus, the Beehive (M44) in Cancer and the double cluster in Perseus. They are all
characterized with a handful of hot and white prominent stars and nebular material surrounding these stars.
Note: Open cluster NGC 1960 is the youngest and smallest in apparent diameter of the three Messier open clusters in Auriga with a magnitude of 6.3. Comprised of at least 60 member stars with a magnitude of 9 or greater, this cluster lies approximately 4,100 light-years away and spans about 14 light-years in diameter. As revealed by the image below, there are no red giants present and is indicative of its very young age which has been estimated to be approximately 25 million years old. The cluster was first discovered by Giovanni Batista Hodierna in 1654 and later first observed by Messier in 1764. The cluster lies in nearly a vertical line with the other two primary clusters in Auriga (M37 and M38) being the middle cluster of the set. All three clusters are best observed using low magnifications during fall and winter where they are placed directly overhead when looking due east.
Please click on the image below to display in higher resolution (1200 x 900)
M36, Cr 71, Mel 37
I 3 r
RA / Dec:
05h 36m 18s /
34° 08' 27"
20' x 20'
Jan 11, 2007
21:30 - 23:35 UT+2
AP 160 f/7.5 StarFire EDF
AP 1200GTO GEM
SBIG LRGB + IR-block