Pinwheel Cluster

Designation: M36 / NGC 1960
Hemisphere: Northern
Constellation: Auriga
Distance: 4,100 light years
Object type: Open Cluster


The Pinwheel Cluster is a young open cluster (a group of stars formed from the same cloud of gas and dust) located approximately 4,100 light years away in the constellation of Auriga, the Charioteer. It has an angular diameter of about 14 light years and contains around 60 stars, many of which are fast spinning stars. As the cluster is very young, estimated to be between 20 and 25 million years, it does not have any red giant stars.

M36 is one of the most distant open clusters and one of the faintest in the Messier Catalogue although it can be easily observed with a pair of binoculars or a small telescope. The interesting fact about this cluster is that it bears a strong resemblance in size and shape to the more famous Pleiades cluster (M45), in the constellation Taurus.


Mount: Sky-watcher HEQ5-Pro
Main Telescope: William Optics ZS73EDii
Main camera: ZWO ASI294MC-Pro
Main camera filter: Optolong UV/IR Cut
Guidescope: AstroEssential 50/200
Guide camera: ZWO ASI174MM
Guide camera filter: Astronomik UV/IR cut

Acquisition details

Total integration time: 35 minutes
Acquisition: ZWO AsiAir Plus
Processing: PixInsight
Location: France

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