|This is a CCD image taken
with an ST-6 CCD camera thru a VERNONscope 80mm APO Refractor. The field
of view is about one square degree, with north at the top.
The picture below was taken with an ST-9E camera thru our 20 inch telescope working at F/4. The field of view is about 16x16 arc minutes.
Open star cluster M-36 was discovered by Hodierna before 1654 as 'a nebulous patch' and re-discovered by Le Gentil in 1749. Other nearby star clusters in Auriga include M-37 and M-38, both also first observed by Hodierna and Le Gentil.
Le Gentil (1749):
'An improperly called nebula . . . above the northern horn of Taurus. It requires a telescope of 12 feet to show that it consists only of stars.'
Charles Messier (Sept. 2nd, 1764):
'A cluster of stars in Auriga..... With an ordinary telescope of 3.5 feet it is difficult to distinguish the stars. The cluster contains no nebulosity. Diameter 9 arc minutes.'
'Beautiful assemblage of stars, 8-14 mag. Very regularly arranged.'
Quote from Dreyer's New General Catalog(NGC) for NGC 1960:
Cluster, bright, very large, very rich in stars, little compressed, stars of magnitude 9 to 11 scattered; = M36.
Quote from Burnham's Celestial Handbook:
......contains about 60 stars of magnitudes 9 to 14. The central knot of bright stars measures about 10 arc minutes in diameter, and includes the easy double star sigma 737, separation 10.7 arc seconds. The group makes its best impression with a fairly low power (20X to 50X) on a 6-inch or 8-inch telescope. M36 is one of the younger galactic star clusters, containing bright B-type stars among its members, and would be as splendid a group as the famous Pleiades if it were some 10 times closer.
The best distance and diameter estimates are: distance = 3,700 light years, diameter = 21 light years. Hopefully the recent data from the Hipparcos satellite will provide accurate figures.
Click below to
George Normandin, KAS
January 8th, 2002