M44 - "Beehive Cluster" in Cancer

M 44 is an open star cluster in the constellation of Cancer. It lies approximately 600 light years away and spans 20 light years. This is one of the closest star clusters to us.

M 44 is commonly known as the Beehive or Praesepe (Latin for 'manger') Cluster. This cluster is extremely large, covering about three times the width of a full moon, and is visible to the naked eye. This was one of the first celestial objects Galileo observed through his telescope in 1609. Charles Messier added it to his catalogue in 1769.

Telescope: APM 152mm refractor
Mount: iOptron CEM60; guided by Orion SSAG Pro on 200mm Takumar lens
Camera: Modified Canon 650D; raw capture; ISO 800
Exposures: 20 @ 5 min.
Processing: Images were focused using a Bahtinov mask and the camera's live view. The subframes were aligned and combined in ImagesPlus. The composite image was adjusted in Photoshop.

Taken from my backyard observatory in southeastern Minnesota on 4/8-9/16. Temp: 24 F; seeing and transparency were fair.

This image captures the core stars in M 44. A wider-angle shot of this object can be seen here.

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