M 44 - The Beehive Cluster
Open Star Cluster
The Beehive Cluster (also known as Praesepe (Latin for "manger", "cot" or "crib"), M44, NGC 2632, or Cr 189), is an open cluster in the constellation Cancer. One of the nearest open clusters to Earth, it contains a larger population of stars than other nearby bright open clusters holding around 1,000 stars. Under dark skies, the Beehive Cluster looks like a small nebulous object to the naked eye, and has been known since ancient times. Classical astronomer Ptolemy described it as a "nebulous mass in the breast of Cancer". It was among the first objects that Galileo studied with his telescope.

Age and proper motion coincide with those of the Hyades, suggesting they may share similar origins. Both clusters also contain red giants and white dwarfs, which represent later stages of stellar evolution, along with many main sequence stars.

Distance to M44 is often cited to be between 160 and 187 parsecs (520–610 light years), but the revised Hipparcos parallaxes (2009) for Praesepe members and the latest infrared color-magnitude diagram favors an analogous distance of 182 pc. There are better age estimates of around 600 million years (compared to about 625 million years for the Hyades). The diameter of the bright inner cluster core is about 23 light years.


Image Details
Date
January 10, 2024
LOCATion
Hannover (Germany)
Sky Quality
Bortle 5
Telescope
Celestron RASA 8 (203/400 f/2)
Mount
Skywatcher EQ6-R Pro
Main Camera
ZWO ASI 2600 MC Pro
Gain 100, Offset 18, -10°
Focuser
Celestron Motorfocus
Filter
Baader UV/IR Cut
Exposure
RGB: 241 × 30″ (2h 30'′)
Guiding
ZWO ASI 120MM, PHD2
Calibration
Flats, Darks, Darkflats
Software
N.I.N.A., EQMod
Processing
Astropixelprocessor, Photoshop, Pixinsight
  
  
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