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NGC 1960 (3,780 of 18,816)


oc gc pln bn dn gx gxcl ast aka lost




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Pinwheel Cluster

NGC 1960, Cl Collinder 71, C 0532+341, OCISM 103, Ocl 445, COCD 78, Messier 36, Pinwheel Cluster, h 358, GC 1166

RA: 05h 36m 12s
Dec: +34° 08′ 24″

Con: Auriga
Ch: MSA:113, U2:97, SA:5

Ref: SIMBAD, Collinder (1931), DAML02, Archinal&Hynes (2003)

(reference key)

Type: open cluster, 13r

Mag: B=6.09, V=6

Size: 10′
PA: ?

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Photos  (1)

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Historical observations

Birr Castle/Lord Rosse

Observations with the 72-inch f/8.8 speculum telescope at Birr Castle noted it as a "coarse cluster."

William Herschel

In the Appendix to the 1912 'Scientific Papers of Sir William Herschel' this object is described as "1794, October 28, 7 feet reflector, with 120, a pretty rich cluster of small stars, seems to have many more than are visible, very small."

Webb, T.W. (1893)

In the 5th edition of Webb's Celestial Objects for Common Telescopes it is described as "Beautiful assemblage of stars 8 to 14th mag, very regularly arranged."

Published comments

Bailey, S.I. (1908)

"! cluster; fairly condensed."

Bailey, S.I. (1908) A catalogue of bright stars and nebulae. Ann.Harv.Coll.Obs., 60(8), 199.

Melotte, P.J. (1915)

A catalogue of star clusters shown on Franklin-Adams chart plates. Mem.R.A.S., 60(5), 175-186.

Raab, S. (1922)

Raab, S. (1922) A research on open clusters. Lund Medd. Astron. Obs. Ser. II, 28, 1.

Discussed, based of F-A plates.

Doig, P. (1925)

Doig, P. (1925) Notes on the nebulae and clusters in Webb's 'Celestial Objects for Common Telescopes' (Sixth edition, Vol.ii). Part I. M.N.R.A.S., 35(5), 159.

Doig, P. (1926)

Doig, P. (1926) "A Catalogue of Estimated Parallaxes of 112 Nebulae, Open clusters and Star Groups", Vol 36 (4), p 107-115.

"well-defined cluster of rather bright stars." He gives the approx. diameter as 18 arcmin.

Trumpler, R.J. (1928)

Trumpler (Lick Obs Bul, Vol 14, No. 420) gives the diameter as 16' and the class as 1 3 m.

Sulentic & Tifft (1973)

The RNGC (Sulentic and Tifft 1973) notes that this is a 6.5 mag open cluster.

Modern observations

Hartung, E.J. (1968) Astron.Obj.South.Tel

Hartung notes: "this fine cluster . . has a central region about 10' across from which emerge several irregularly curved arms to give a roughly spiral pattern; the stars are numerous with a small pair near the centre. 10.5cm shows the cluster well."

Burnham's Celestial Handbook

Burnham calls it a bright, very large loose cluster, 12' cross, with about 60 stars of 9th magnitude and fainter. Burnham notes that it was discovered by Le Gentil in 1749. He adds that "the central knot of stars measures about 10' in diameter and includes the easy double Struve 737, separation 10.7 arcseconds. The group makes its best impression with a fairly low power (20x to 50x) on a 6- or 8-inch telescope. The brightest star is of magnitude 8.86. Sanford calls it a "concentrated but irregular group of about 60 stars ... best seen with low-power eyepieces. The group resembles M6 in Scorpius and all of its bright stars are white."

Harrington, Phil

Harrington notes that although M36 is a little smaller than M38, it outshines its neighbour by about half a magnitude. "As a result, it stands out well against the star-rich surroundings. An 8- to 10-inch telescope reveals more than five dozen stars covering about 12' in a crooked Y pattern. To Kenneth Jones ... it looks like 'the constellation Perseus in miniature'. Two double stars adorn M36. The more southerly pair, Struve 737, was described by Smythe as 'a neat double star .. both white.' Separated by just more than 10 arcseconds, these two 9th mag suns are resolvable in even the smallest amateur telescopes." Phil Harrington (1990, Touring the Universe through Binoculars) notes ". . only about ten [members] may be seen though 7x glasses. The remaining suns blur into a gentle stellar fog. On exceptionally clear nights, M36 takes on an almost three-dimensional effect against the background Milky Way Field."

Tom Lorenzin

Tom Lorenzin, in the electronic version of "1000+ The Amateur Astronomers' Field Guide to Deep Sky Observing", notes: "6M; 12' extent; sparse; approximately 1/5 to 1/10 as populous as M-37; not overly impressive; 45' E and a little S of DIF NEB N1931."

Raasch, Rick

Rick Raasch writes in "The Focal Point", Volume 6, No. 3 (1993) "M36 A very nice open cluster, 20-25' in diameter, composed of relatively bright stars. In excess of 100 stars are seen, in this rather concentrated cluster. Easily seen in the viewfinder, and very pretty."

Callender, John

Observer: John Callender

Instrument: 50-mm binoculars Location: Carpinteria, CA, USA

Light pollution: light Transparency: good Seeing: poor

Time: Mon Feb 3 05:45:00 1997 UT Obs. no.: 44

Brighter and smaller than M38 in 7x50s. An obvious, small, mottled cluster.

Observer: John Callender

Instrument: 8-inch Dobsonian reflector Location: Carpinteria, CA, USA

Light pollution: light Transparency: good Seeing: poor

Time: Sat Mar 1 05:25:00 1997 UT Obs. no.: 88

Of the three Messier clusters in Auriga, this was the largest, richest, and generally the most impressive in the 8-inch at 48x; a wide, rich field of medium-bright stars.

Observer: John Callender

Instrument: 8-inch Dobsonian reflector Location: Carpinteria, CA, USA

Light pollution: light Transparency: good Seeing: poor

Time: Sat Mar 1 05:20:00 1997 UT Obs. no.: 87

Smaller than M38, courser; observed at 48x in the 8-inch.

Brian Skiff

WDS: pair 20' SW = ADS 4165 = +33 1087: 9.1,9.7; 2".1; 265 (1940).

pair in center = Struve 737: V=9.1,9.4; 10".7; 305.

6cm - sl concen w/~20 *s and haze. five brtr *s on NE side.

7cm - smlr, more well def @ 30x than M38, but brtst *s about same mag. 50x: 60 *s in 20' diam. extreme outliers to br * SW (edge of proper motion study area). central dbl* res @ 30x. mod concen across center. BS, 26Nov1992, Anderson Mesa.

15cm - smlr and less populous than M38. several br colored *s. BS, 5Sep1970, FtL.

- sm, compact, fairly br. sm dbl in center 2" sep, m9. 50 *s in 15' diam. BS, 25Oct1970, FtL.

- 60 *s; pair in center noted. BS, Anderson Mesa?

- nice cl of rel br *s well isolated from fld. 25' diam w/100 *s @ 140x. mod concen across center. wide = pair in center. 20' SW is close pair: 9.0,9.7; 1".5; 260.

25cm - a little smlr than M38: 75 *s in 25' area. *s have wide range in brtness. wide m8.5 pair 15" sep just S of center. to N are f closer pairs.

- much brtr *s than M38 but not as many *s. more concen to center. 75 *s, wide range in brtness. BS, 6Oct1981, Anderson Mesa.

30cm - 140x: 70 *s in 18' area. even sprinkling of m8.5-9.5 *s and many fntr. a nice pair nr center, pinkish & bluish. CBL, Roof.

Steve Gottlieb

05 36.3 +34 08

8: very bright, large, loose, includes two curving star lanes. Double star

...737 = 8.5/9.0 at 11" is near the center.

Danie L. Cronje


Danie Cronje, observing with 10x50 binoculars, calls it "looks very much like M37, but a few stars can be resolved. With averted vision the glow increases."

Contemporary observations

Auke Slotegraaf


In a 2-inch refractor at 20x, the cluster is small and reasonably compact, and the brightest of the three Messiers in Auriga. Not much detail is visible and it is difficult to sketch. It has a overall triangular shape, the one corner having a slight elongation. There are about 8 brighter stars.

1994 January 27

1994-01-27, Die Boord, tripod-mounted 11x80's Very low on horizon, some smoke. Easy to spot as an irregular, faint patch; has no central brightening so it doesn't look like a globular.

Tom Bryant

2010 3 9 20:57:48

Observing site: Little Tycho Observatory

Telescope: C-8

[5h 36m 6s, 34� 8m 0s] A large, cruxiform cluster with many stars that appear to be double.

Pierre de Villiers

2016 February 06, Saturday

Location: Bonnievale SSP

Telescope: 200-mm f/5 Skywatcher, Delos 8-mm ep (0.57-deg fov)

M 36 open cluster, dim, spread out, core about 10-arcmin + NW and E extensions filling the full 35-arcmin field of view.

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