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The Pincushion

Lacaille II.10, Dunlop 323, NGC 3532, Cl Collinder 238, Cl Melotte 103, Cl Raab 88, Cl VDBH 109, C 1104-584, COCD 276, Caldwell 91, Fish Cluster, The Pincushion, Firefly Party Cluster, Football Cluster, h 3315, GC 2308

RA: 11h 05m 33s
Dec: −58° 43′ 48″

Con: Carina
Ch: MSA:991, U2:427, SA:25

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

(reference key)

Type: open cluster, 23r

Mag: B=3.28, V=3

Size: 50′
PA: ?

Image gallery

Sketches  (1)

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Photos  (1)

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Historical observations

Lacaille (1755)

This cluster was discovered by Lacaille and included in his 1755 catalogue as Class II No. 10. In his half-an-inch 8x telescope he saw it as a "prodigious number of faint stars forming a semi-circle of 20/25 minutes diameter."

Dunlop, James (1827)

James Dunlop observed it from Paramatta, New South Wales, and included it as No. 323 in his catalogue of 1827. Using a 9-inch f/12 telescope, he described it as "a very large cluster of stars about the 9th magnitude, with a red star of the 7-8th magnitude, north following the centre of the cluster. Elliptical figure: the stars are pretty regularly scattered."

John Herschel (1847) Cape Observations

Observed by Sir John Herschel at the Cape of Good Hope with an 18-inch f/13 speculum telescope. He was very impressed with the cluster, including it in a list of 'greatest hits': "Among the nebulae which occur from 9h to 12h we have .. the beautiful planetary nebula [NGC 2867], a perfect planet in appearance, with an attendant satellite; the falcated nebula [NGC 3199]; Eta Argus with its nebula; the superb cluster [NGC 3532]; the blue [Herschel's italics] planetary nebula [NGC 3918], a most exquisite and unique object ; and the beautiful cluster of various coloured stars about Kappa Crucis [NGC 4755]." His first observation recorded the "Chief star of a very large, round, loosely scattered cluster of stars 8..12th magnitude, which fills 2 or 3 fields. A fine bright object." His next observation recorded "The chief star of a superb cluster, which has several elegant double stars, and many orange-coloured ones." His third observation reads: "A glorious cluster of immense magnitude, being at least 2 fields in extent every way. The stars are 8, 9, 10 and 11 mag, but chiefly 10th magnitude, of which there must be at least 200. It is the most brilliant object of the kind I have ever seen."

NGC/IC Dreyer (1888, 1895, 1908)

The NGC entry reads: "very remarkable object, cluster of stars, extremely large, rich, little compressed, consisting of stars 8..12th magnitude."

Published comments

Bailey, S.I. (1908)

"! cluster, fairly condensed, MilkyWay."

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.

Table, p.177: "Clusters" noted by Bailey but not included in the Catalogue:

{See his comment re: NGC 3572}

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 III. Southern Objects. M.N.R.A.S., 36(3), 91.

Doig, P. (1925)

Journal BAA, 36(3), Dec, p91

dense Cl, 65' diam. regular outline and distinct condensation.

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.

"dense; regular; condensed." He gives the approx. diameter as 63 arcmin.

Trumpler, R.J. (1928)

Trumpler (Lick Obs Bul, Vol 14, No. 420) gives the diameter as 55' and the class as 2 2 r.

Hogg, A.R. (1965)

"Cat. of Open Cl. south of -45� Decl.", Mem. 17 Mnt Stromlo Obs.

Sulentic & Tifft (1973)

The RNGC (Sulentic and Tifft 1973) notes that this is a 3.5 mag open cluster.

Photo index

Photo Index by Jim Lucyk: Sky&Tel. 4/84 p305, Burnhams V1 p474.

Modern observations

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

Hartung writes: "this magnificent cluster is about 60' x 30' and therefore needs a large field. The numerous bright scattered stars are obviously not distributed at random for, apart from many pairs, small straight and curved lines of stars are very evident. A number of bright orange stars will be noted."

Sanford (1989) Observing the Constellations

Sanford writes of it as a large galactic cluster, visible to the naked eye, and forming "a large, elongated group, with the 6th magnitude orange star X Carinae at the east end."

Harrington, Phil

Harrington calls this an "outstanding gathering of about 150 stars clumped within 55 arc minutes. More than 60 cluster members can be seen though 7x50 binoculars, with the rest visible in rich-field telescopes. En masse, the cluster has a wedge shape, elongated east to west, with many of the stars set in long intertwining lines and curves. One visit to NGC 3532 and you will surely feel as Herschel did when he described it as th emost brilliant cluster he had ever seen."

Burnham's Celestial Handbook

Burnham calls it a "superb galactic star cluster situated in a rich field about three degrees westnorthwest from the Eta Carinae nebula. Although one of the finest open clusters in the sky, NGC 3532 is almost unknown to observers in the northern hemisphere ... the group is very large and much elongated, requiring a wide-field telescope; it measures about 60' x 30' and contains at least 150 stars down to magnitude 12. Possibly some 400 stars are known to be true members ... the cluster is unusually rich in bright A-type stars; H. Shapley in 1930 reported [189] of the brighter stars .. were class A. Seven G stars and eight K stars were noted, but no members of type M ... the cluster includes the triple star Hd 210." The primary is a 6th magnitude G8 type; the second component at 12 arcseconds, PA 230 , is mag 11.5 and the third lies as 15 arcseconds, PA 180 and is of magnitude 12.5. These values are for 1900.

Sanford (1989) Observing the Constellations

Sanford writes of it as a large galactic cluster, visible to the naked eye, and forming "a large, elongated group, with the 6th magnitude orange star X Carinae at the east end."

Harrington, Phil

Harrington calls this an "outstanding gathering of about 150 stars clumped within 55 arc minutes. More than 60 cluster members can be seen though 7x50 binoculars, with the rest visible in rich-field telescopes. En masse, the cluster has a wedge shape, elongated east to west, with many of the stars set in long intertwining lines and curves. One visit to NGC 3532 and you will surely feel as Herschel did when he described it as th emost brilliant cluster he had ever seen."

Williams, Peter F

Peter F. Williams from New South Wales, Australia, calls it a "delightful cluster situated in the rich sothern Milky Way of Carina and is clearly visible to the unaided eye as a distinct patch 2.5� east of the brilliant Eta Carinae Nebula complex. It has a large apparent diameter, about 50', and often appears more striking in smaller aperture low-power telescopes which are capable of including more of the surrounding sky, thus giving better contrast. Seen through a telescope, NGC 3532 is a very large, bright and rich cluster of stars of mags 7 to 13, most of which appear white in colour. In fine contrast is the beautifully orange coloured HD 96918 (V=3.9) lying on the cluster's southeastern edge. A broad centgral concentration measuring 30' b y15' within the cluster has a single orange star, HD 96544 (V=6.0) situated on its north eastern edge. Many star chains are found running in all directions across the cluster and several pairs are also evident. Two somewhat vacant areas are found near the cluster's central region ... The richness of this cluster is fully appreciated when the telescope is slowly swept 2 degrees or so to either side of the centre."

Cozens, Glen

Glen Cozens writes: "East of the Eta Carinae nebula is an obvious naked-eye aggregation of stars, NGC 3532. If possible, survey this cluster with a variety of instruments. Unlike many other star clusters, which give the best views at low power, this one will display progressively more stars as you move to larger apertures and higher magnifications. In a moderately sized instrument NGC 3532 appears very elongated with about 100 stars, many of which are orange."

Gross, Todd (IAAC)

Observer: Todd Gross; Your skill: Intermediate ; Date and UT of observation: 1/1/98 ; Location & latitude: Cancun, Mexico; Site classification: Urban/Suburban; Limiting magnitude (visual): 5.1 zenith (est) 3.5 (est) in vicinity of object; Seeing (1 to 10 - worst-best): 5; Moon up (phase?): No; Weather: Clear to pt. cloudy; Instrument: 80mm APO refractor f/6 - f/l 480mm; Magnifications: 16x,32x,69x; Personal Rating (for this aperture): B+

I stumbled onto this spectacular open cluster with binoculars while searching for the infamous Eta Carina emission nebula. It was easy to see in 8x32 as a very large cluster, partially resolved. In the 80mm scope at 16x it was a large, very tight, elongated open cluster with medium-bright uniform stars. It is oriented primarily E-W. It looks best around 50x. At 69x it started to loosen up a bit, but still fairly dense. The greatest density was in an oval shape near the center, as the E side loosens and broadens out a bit. In fact, I was using a star diagonal, and in this orientation the clustery roughly resembled the constellation Leo. (East on the right, West on the left, broadest on the East side) The cluster took up the entire field of view using the 7mm eyepiece (69x)

Brian Skiff

Fernandez: brtst *s V~7.5, not m10. x Car ~25'.5 SE.

eye - br elong patch embedded in br Carina Milky Way. BS, 22Feb1990, LCO.

7x35mm - well res into dozens of m10+ *s, but they're too close for accurate

count. main part oval, elong E-W. BS, 22Feb1990, LCO.

15cm - brilliant unusually rich cl whose outliers extend over 1.4-deg circ area,

reaching beyond yel m5 * (x Carinae) SE @ 30x. oval core 35'x25' contains

350 *s to m12.5 or so. a thin *less dk band curves E-W through this

region in smooth parabola opening S, most distinctive @ 30x & 50x. occas

rel close/= pairs. core area has broad concen overall. BS, 22Feb1990,

LCO.

25cm - looks like two segments of equal size. distinctly oblong, about 60'x30'

w/50 *s all br. BS, 19Feb1972, Everglades Holiday Park.

Contemporary observations

Auke Slotegraaf

2008 December 22

Mount Ceder

80mm Takahashi APO

Conditions: Clear, dark.

"The Fish Cluster". Dieter Willasch sees 5th magnitude X Carinae as the eye of the fish. Not convinced, I take a look at it through his 80mm APO. With the fish bias in mind, I also see one, but trace it differently, with X Carinae not a part of the fish, but looking rather like a lure cast by a celestial angler. Dieter also noted that the stars can also be seen as the outline of Horus, the Egyptian god. However, the piscine precedent was set in my mind.

2002 July 01

Stellenbosch (Paradyskloof Rifle Range)

11x80 tripod-mounted binoculars (12.5-mm aperture mask)

Conditions: Dark moon. Slight easterly breeze. NELM approx 5.5 at the pole. Dew.

Breathtaking, vast, terribly rich cluster of stars; many of them of similar magnitude. Overall the group is in an elongated squat diamond shape, the longer axis arranged east-west. There does appear to be a offshoot of stars from this diamond to the northwest, making a crude V shape (open to the west), looking as if some obscuring material intrudes/cuts into the cluster. The binocular field is devastatingly splendid, with much dark nebulosity around.

1997 April 14

1997 April 14, 02:00 - 04:00 Jonkershoek. 11x80's tripod-mounted. Wow! Two bright stars (one inside, one outside) accompany a massive field of stars which make a spectacular sight.

On the eastern edge is a triangular dark zone, quite readily seen, which helps to build the diamond-shaped form of the cluster. On the cluster's western side is a less prominent irregular dark patch, part of a larger stream of dark nebulosity coming in from the south-east.

1991

The view through large binoculars is, I feel, more spectacular, but a 10-inch f/5 at 30x shows this really beautiful cluster nicely framed in a one degree field of view. It is very rich, stars moderately bright (8th mag and fainter), very evenly spread out, with no major condensations or stellar groupings (knots), although a dark band seems to run through the centre of the cluster, almost perfectly west-east. It doesn't appear to divide the cluster as such, it is merely a noticeable star-free zone. At 120x this dark zone is slightly more prominent. The "spiral arm" nature of the streamers of stars is not apparent in the 10-inch, whereas binoculars clearly show these arms spiraling out from the centre.

1983

A glorious cluster in 11x80 binoculars. There are two bright stars marking it, the yellow X Carinae on its eastern edge and another star within the cluster. The cluster is a glorious mass of 8-9th mag stars, very uniform in brightness, covering a large part of the night sky within a rich Milky Way field. The first impression shows it as an extended pin-cushion of stars elongated east-west, but in this rich field the cluster seems to fade away irregularly in strands, gradually merging with the background.

1981

A 2-inch refractor shows the cluster as a beautiful, rich, concentrated cluster, somewhat like M41. It has an overall trapezium shape, and the cluster members are of more or less the same magnitude, resulting in a fine sprinkling of stars. It is difficult and confusing to sketch since the stars are small and close. With a high-power eyepiece through the 2-inch refractor, a dark division across the centre of the cluster is seen.

1980

Only one star appears much brighter and can be seen in handheld 8x40 binoculars, whereas the rest of the cluster appears only as a haze.

Magda Streicher

1999 February 14

Verslag 7

Teleskoop: Meade 8"

Field of view: eyepiece - 25mm, 18mm wide angle, 15mm.

Date: 14 February 1999. (Gert en Mary op die plaas 14 Februarie 1999)

Open Cluster, Carina, 11h 06m 4s, -58 40

Beautiful, large, well spread out cluster, with several curved and straight chains of stars noticed. In several places, I noticed stars grouped in threes. There is a prominent bright red star, but the remainder appear white. The stars are not concentrated towards the centre.

1999 March 7

Meade 12", 40mm eyepiece, 53' f.o.v.

Pietersburg; Moderate light pollution

Large, open, scattered cluster, with stars of differing magnitudes. Scattered throughout the cluster are a striking number of stars that appear in two's and three's.

There is a bright reddish star just east of the centre of the cluster. Near this star, a thick, dark lane can be seen, running east to west across the cluster. There are other dark lanes, too, scattered about the cluster.

To the west of the cluster more dark patchy regions are seen, along with fainter stars, and possibly some nebulosity. There is a bright star just out of the field to the south-east.

Carol Botha

2007 March 10

Date: 2007 03 10, 20:30

Location: Bellville

Instrument: 8-inch Dobsonian, 25mm eyepiece

Sky: Clear; light pollution

Notes: Open cluster. Large, elongated. Two stellar lanes with a dark lane down the middle which is devoid of stars. (the sketch does not depict a dark nebula � just to show the area without stars.) There is a bright orange star on the edge of the cluster.

Gary Lillis

2007 July 31

2007 July 31, 19:45 SAST

Walmer, Port Elizabeth

8x21 binoculars

Conditions: Clear from clouds, Moon not visible.

Wishing Well Cluster. Easy hop 7.5 degrees from Southern Pleiades, very large 55arcmin cluster, cloud-like (apparent magnitude M3). Appears nicely and easily against background. No prominent or individual stars could be seen through binoculars, but looks highly concentrated with a large brighter concentration off-centre toward the North M6.8. Field stars east 0.5 degrees M5.9, west one degree M6.2.

Richard Ford

2011 January 9th, Sunday

Location:Perdeberg.

Instrument:12-inch Dobsonian Reflector Telescope.

Eyepieces:26mm Super Wide Field Eyepiece.

20mm Ultra Wide Angle Eyepiece.

Sky Conditions:The fainter parts of the Milky Way are barely visible.

Transparency of the Sky:Haziness only visible on the horizon.

Seeing:Atmosphere stable with little interference.

Limting Magnitude:4.9.

1.NGC 3532

1.1.Object Type:Open Cluster.

1.2.First Impression:This object looks like a star cloud of bright stars.

1.3.Location:Orion.

1.4.Time:12:15am.

1.5.Chart Number:No.32(Extract taken out of "Star Gazer's Deep Space Atlas").

1.6.Size:26mm Eyepiece:Field Of View:57'/1.5=38'.

20mm Eyepiece:Field Of View:50'/1.5=33.3'.

38'+ 33.3'=71.3'.

71.3'/2=35.6'.

Size in Arc Minutes:35.6'.

1.7.Brightness:Magnitude 3.

1.8.Brightness Profile:This open cluster is bright all over.The brightness stays the same.

1.9.Challenge Rating:A glorious sight.

1.10.Description

-----------

The bright stars in this open cluster shines like

diamonds in the night sky.Both the stars in this open

cluster are strongly concentrated towards each other and

have nearly the same brightness.

Pierre de Villiers

2016 February 05, Friday

Location: Bonnievale SSP (Night Sky Caravan Park)

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

Binoculars: Canon 12x36 IS (5-deg fov)

Sky conditions: Good (8.5/10)

Quality of observation: Good

Spectacular open cluster. Density of star increases to the north-northwest. Three bright star "within" the NNW edge of cluster. No non-white colours discernable. m = 3. Size 50-arcmin.

Favourite lists

Lacaille's catalogue

The Messier objects

Dunlop's catalogue

The Bennett objects

The Caldwell list

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