Open star cluster M44 (The Beehive, or Praesape)

UA 5-inch image of Messier 44

The nearby star cluster Messier 44 in Cancer, shown in a Canon digital SLR image (30 seconds' exposure) obtained with the 5-inch guide telescope of the UA campus observatory. M44 is known as the Beehive or Praesape. Its brightest members are just fainter than magnitude 6, so it is unusual (at least for me!) for it to be anything but a blended blur to the unaided eye. Binoculars or a small telescope clearly reveal its cluster nature, and the tilted-V configuration of some of its brightest stars (rather like a miniature echo of the Hyades). M44 is so nearby as to appear quite large; this view spans 42 by 63 arcminutes, and some members spill outside this area.

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Last changes: 1/2007      © 2007