M44 – Beehive Cluster

M44, also known as Praesepe or the Beehive Cluster can be found in the constellation, Cancer. This object can be seen with the unaided eye from a mildly light polluted, or dark sky location. Galileo saw this “nebulous” object and reported that it was not a single star, but more than 40 small stars. Charles Messier added this object to his catalog on March 4, 1769. This cluster lies 577 light-years away and is estimated to be 730 million years old which is relatively young, astronomically speaking.

'X' marks the spot of M44

‘X’ marks the spot of M44

Many of the brighter stars are very easily visible at only 30x magnification. There were a few distinct sections of the cluster where there were small groupings of 3 stars which you can see in the image below.

M44 03-16-143

This image is 35 images at 1 minute 15 seconds a piece, ISO 800 with 21 dark images to reduce noise. Within this image there are 6 Galaxies; NGC2624, NGC2625, IC2388, NGC2637, IC2390, and NGC2643 from top to bottom. Below I have provided an image with the SAO stars, and the galaxies labeled.

M44 label

Equipment:
Omni XLT 150 with CG-4 mount
Canon 350D
T-ring and adapter
Intervalometer
Polar Scope for alignment

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