How to Find Messier 36, 37 and 38

How to find Messier 36, 37 and 38

M37a by Ole Nielsen.jpg


Three magnificent and easy to see open clusters in Auriga. Messier 36, 37, and 38. These are real jewel-box gems and very easy to locate and observe. I have been able to photograph them using a kit 18-55mm DSLR lens and a tripod with only a few seconds of exposure. If you have binoculars or a small telescope then these objects make a good starting point in your quest for deep sky objects.

Image by: Ole Nielsen


Messier 36, the Pinwheel Cluster


Other names: M36 or NGC 1960

Magnitude = 6 

Surface brightness = 12


Messier 36 is another open cluster. It can be found about 4,100 light years away. It was discovered by Hodierna before 1654 also. It contains about 60 stars. The interesting thing about this cluster is that it would appear just like the Pleaides if it were closer to us. Imagine two jewel boxes of the northern night sky. That would be a sight to behold. Look out for the one star that is much brighter than the rest. This star is 360 times brighter than our Sun. This is best viewed in low power.


Use this chart to estimate if you can see the object from your location with your telescope. For more help on using this chart click here.

Telescope Aperture City Suburbs Rural Dark Sky
4 inches 9 10 11 12.5
5 inches 9.5 10.5 11.5 13
6 inches 10 11 12 13.5
8 inches 10.5 11.5 12.5 14
10 inches 11 12 13 14.5



Telescope Image to Scale


m36.jpg


This image is 30 arc minutes by 30 arcminutes which is about the size of the full moon.


Messier 37


Other names: M37 or NGC 2099

Magnitude = 5.6

Surface Brightness = 11

Messier 37 is an open star cluster located about 4,500 light years away. It was discovered by Hodierna before 1654. This is the brightest of the Auriga open star clusters. It is thought to contain about 500 stars. There are over a 12 red giant stars due to the estimated age of this cluster being around 500 million years.


Telescope Image to Scale:


m37.jpg


This image is 30 arc minutes by 30 arcminutes which is about the size of the full moon.


Messier 38, the Starfish Cluster


Other names: M38, Starfish Cluster or NGC 1912

Magnitude = 6.4

Surface Brightness = 12

Messier 38 is an open star cluster. It is found 4,200 light years away. It can be viewed in the same field as M36. This group of about 100 stars is interesting because it appears to be two open clusters interacting with each other. The brightest stars of this cluster form a rather nice cross a bit like the much larger constellation of Cygnus. It was discovered by Hodierna before 1654.


Telescope Image to Scale:


m38.jpg


This image is 30 arc minutes by 30 arcminutes which is about the size of the full moon.


How To Find Them


Locate the constellation Auriga. This is in the northern hemisphere. It is an easily recognisable pentagonal shape and contains the bright star Capella. The three open star clusters form a slightly curving line. M37, M36  and M38 are on the chart below. Messier 36 co-ordinates are: RA 05h 37m 13.53 DEC +34° 08′ 21.7″, Messier 37 co-ordinates are: RA 05h 53m 12.83 DEC +32° 33′ 02.2″ and Messier 38 co-ordinates are: RA 05h 29m 36.32 DEC +35° 50′ 31.0″ if you are using guiding software. 


How to find messier 36, messier 37 and messier 38


To find more space objects have a look at the constellation guide by clicking the link or go back to the list of deep space objects.


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