M44 The Beehive Cluster

The Beehive Cluster, also known as Praesepe (Latin for “manger”), M44, is an open cluster in the constellation Cancer. It is one of the nearest open clusters to the Solar System, and it contains a larger star population than most other nearby clusters. Under dark skies the Beehive Cluster looks like a nebulous object to the naked eye; thus it has been known since ancient times.

The Cluster contains both red giants and white dwarfs, which represent later stages of stellar evolution.

The cluster’s distance is often cited to lie between 520-610 light years. it is about 600 million yearsold. This is equivalent to the age of the Hyades (~ 625 million years). The bright central core of the cluster has a diameter of about 22.8 light years.

The Beehive is most easily observed when Cancer is high in the sky; in northern latitudes this occurs during the evening from February to May. The cluster fits well in the field of view of a pair of binoculars or a telescope of low power.

Technical info:
TS 80mm f6 APO triplet refractor – Canon 40D + IDAS LPS2 (light pollution) filter – exposure 13 minutes