Tuesday morning before the Sun rises the 26-day old waning crescent Moon will be about 6>sup>o from the open star cluster M-44, or more commonly known as the ‘Beehive Cluster’, or from the Latin for manger or cradle, Praesepe. M-44 is a group of approximately 1,000 stars at a distance of around 600 light years.
The open star cluster covers about 1-2o and is easily seen in dark skies with the unaided eyes as a fuzzy patch of light. Through binoculars or with a low power wide field telescope eyepiece M-44 resolves to individual stars.
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M44 could be a state highway in Michigan, part of Interstate 44 passing through my home state of Missouri, or for the purposes of this blog an open star cluster in the constellation Cancer the Crab. This evening look toward the western horizon for the brightly shining inner planet Venus which will be located within the field of view that encompasses M44, commonly known as the Beehive Cluster, and also known as Praesepe – Latin for manger.
The Beehive Cluster is a loose collection of up to around 1000 stars spread over an area of just less than 1 degree. With an apparent magnitude of around 4 M44 appears as a fuzzy spot to the naked eye. With binoculars or low power eyepiece in a telescope M44 resolves into a nice looking sprinkling of stars.
Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information.