M36 (NGC 1960)

All Images Copyright Steve Cannistra

Please click here or on image for a higher resolution view.

Magnitude:  6.5
Size: About 21'
Distance: 4,100 light years
RA: 05h 36m 37.6s
Dec: 34 degrees 08' 46"

M36 is a beautiful, open cluster in Auriga, a constellation that contains other famous open clusters such as M37 and M38.  This is a young star cluster, with an age of approximately 25 million years, and as a result contains no red giants (the older yellow-red stars seen in the above image are not part of M36).  If M36 were located 10 times closer to us, it would present a naked eye view similar to that of the Pleiades.   More information about M36 may be found here.

Photographic Details:

Date:  February 27, 2005
Takahashi Sky 90 at f4.5 with field flattener/focal reducer, on the G11 Losmandy Mount.  I made a circular rim out of PVC tubing which fitted over the dew shield of the Sky90 and permitted placement of an elastic band to form an "X".  This created the star spikes shown above for the brighter stars.  A photograph of this device is shown here (this could also be accomplished with kite string or fishing line).
Autoguider:  SBIG STV with e-finder.
Camera:  SXV-H9
Astronomik Type II R, G, B, plus clear filter set.
Exposures:  L:R:G:B.  5 x 3' for Luminance (clear filter); R, G, and B (4 x 3' each), all unbinned.
Conditions:  Temperature 23 degrees F; below average transparency; below average seeing; a little breezy; high, thin clouds passing through.
No darks, flats, or bias frames used. 
Auto aligned in MaximDL; Sigma combined using RC Sigma Reject plug in, followed by DDP in ImagesPlus (IP).   Subsequent levels and curves adjustments in Photoshop CS (16 bit format).

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