Discovered by Giovanni Battista Hodierna in 1654
Charles Messier included the cluster in his catalog on September 2, 1764
M36 (NGC 1980) is an open cluster located in the northern constellation of Auriga approximately 4,100 light years from the Earth. The cluster is also known as the Pinwheel Cluster and has an apparent magnitude of 6.3. It spans approximately 12 arc minutes of the sky and may be observed under dark skies using binoculars or small amateur telescopes. The cluster contains more than 60 stars and resembles, in composition, the more famous Pleiades (M45) cluster. These young stars shine brightly in the blue portion of the visual portion of the spectrum. Along with M36, Messier included in his catalog two other bright clusters located in Auriga. (M37 and M38) These spectacular celestial objects are best observed in the northern hemisphere during winter months when Auriga is high in the sky.