M44 - The Beehive Cluster
Credits: Keith Turnecliff, Nerja, Spain
Messier 44 (M44), also known as the Beehive Cluster or Praesepe (the Manger), is an open star cluster in the constellation Cancer.
Praesepe is a bright, large cluster with an apparent magnitude of 3.7. It lies at a distance of 577 light years from Earth. It has the designation NGC 2632 in the New General Catalogue.
M44 is one of the nearest open clusters to Earth and can easily be seen without binoculars. It appears as a blurry patch of light to the naked eye. The cluster is best seen in binoculars and small telescopes. Occupying an area 95 arc minutes across, it fits in the field of view of binoculars and low power telescopes. Larger telescopes reveal more than 200 stars in the cluster.
Facts about M44 by Keith Turnecliff
he best time of year to observe the Beehive Cluster is from February to May, when Cancer rises high in the sky for northern observers.
The brightest stars in M44 have a visual magnitude of 6 to 6.5 and appear blue-white in colour.