M44 - The Beehive Cluster - 2/13/2009
Image Capture Details

Optics:  Meade LX200 14GPS @ F/2
Mount: Meade
Camera: QHY8
Filters: none
Exposure:  90 X 30 sec = 45 Minutes
Time: 10:15pm - 12:25AM EST
Location: Waldwick, NJ
© 2009 David A. Trapani
All Rights Reserved

M44, a loose open cluster of stars, is commonly known as the Beehive cluster.  It
is also named Praesepe which is Latin for “manger”.  It is visible under dark
skies with the naked eye and was known to Aratos in 260 BC.  The cluster is
approximately 577 light years from the Earth in the constellation Cancer.  The
cluster spans an angular distance of about 95 minutes of arc, which is greater
than the field of view of the image above.  This image spans about 52 minutes
minutes of arc.  Many of the bright stars in the cluster are grouped in threes
giving it a very distinct appearance when viewed through the eyepiece of a
telescope.  The age of M44 has been determined to be about 790 million years.  
The cluster has at least 5 red giant stars of which some are visible in the image
above.  Whether viewed through a telescope, or in a CCD image, the Beehive
cluster is an impressive sight.