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Messier 35 - Open Cluster in Gemini

Updated: Jun 7

  • Featured in Amateur Astrophotography Magazine - Issue 61

M35 is a large, 110 million-year-old cluster located 2,800 light-years away in the constellation of Gemini. Another cluster, NGC 2158, is next to Messier 35, and the both of them together make for a beautiful photo full of stars.

The tricky part about photographing this target with its cluster neighbor is to properly center the camera so you can capture them both without cutting either one out.

Make sure your tracking and guiding are on point so that the stars within the clusters don’t drift over each other. For star cluster astrophotography, excellent guiding is extremely important. In our case, our laptop died that night so unfortunately we did not have our guiding on! Thinking quickly, we decided to launch 30-second shots unguided and managed to get okay (but not great) details with minimal star trails. You can see the image below.

messier 35 astrophotography ngc 2158


Camera: Canon 7D Mark II

Telescope: 8" Astrograph

Mount: Motorized Equatorial Mount

Coma: Baader MPCC Coma Corrector MkIII

Guiding: N/A (laptop died!)

Processing: Pixinsight


Total Exposure Time: 1.4 hours

Exposure Time per frame: 30 seconds

164 lights - 15 Darks - 15 Bias

ISO: 800


How to Locate Messier 35

graph on how to locate Messier 35

Messier 35 can be found in the Gemini constellation. The cluster can easily be found by locating the nearest bright star: Capella, from the Taurus constellation.

Starting from Alhena, a bright star in the constellation of Gemini, move in a straight line to Capella and the line will lead you directly to M35. You should land on the cluster a little more than halfway through.

The cluster can be seen with the naked eye under the best possible conditions, and can easily observed through binoculars as well as any size telescope.

messier 35 astrophotography

If your goal includes seeing the neighboring cluster NGC 2158, a larger telescope will be needed. That second cluster can be found just 15 arc minutes to the southwest of M35.

Here is a better view of the NGC 2158 cluster. Unless you completely miss your framing or you are using a huge telescope, you will get this pretty cool cluster in your final image as well!

Cool Facts

  • Discovered around the year 1750

  • The only Messier object in Gemini

  • About the same size as the full moon

Find out more about the clusters we've captured on our Star Cluster page.


Messier 35 Log Entry Video


Final Thoughts

This Messier cluster in Gemini is a pretty popular target for astrophotographers, especially due to the fact that NGC 2158, another cluster, can be seen right next to it! You also do not need much total exposure time to make a great image full of stars.

If you need guidance about how to photograph this deep-sky object, consider partaking in our astrophotography consulting services. We can teach you one-on-one or help you bring out the best of your photos.

Clear Skies,

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