Posts Tagged ‘star clusters’

Focus On: Wishing Well Cluster

Friday, December 29th, 2017

 

The Wishing Well is an open cluster of about 400 stars, located 1300-light-years away, in the southern constellation, Carina. Formerly known as NGC 3532 and Caldwell 91, it was originally catalogued in 1755, by Nicolas Louis de Lacaille, a French astronomer who catalogued nearly 10,000 stars, introduced 14 new constellations, and determined the solar and lunar parallaxes, from his observatory at the Cape of Good Hope.

Targeted as the Hubble Telescope’s first light image in 1990, the Wishing Well is about 300-million-years old and includes several red-giants, white dwarfs, and binary stars. Southern hemisphere observers can easily spot this colorful cluster, spanning a visual region about twice the size of the Full Moon, next to the famous Eta Carinae nebula – NGC 3372 – and just a few degrees from the famous “Southern Pleiades” cluster – IC 2602.

FUN FACT: NGC 3532 is known as the Wishing Well because, to some observers, it appears as colorful coins scattered across the bottom of a fountain. It is also nicknamed the Football Cluster, for its oval shape resembling a rugby ball.

BONUS: Click on the Wishing Well image for a fun ESO full dome video of the cluster!