Me, Myself and Messier: M44

This scribbing was originally intended for the now-defunct Astronomy Wise. However, it was not written at the time the magazine folded. Instead, it was written in February 2016, as M44 was gradually becoming better placed for evening observation. This page is draft.

Ironically, I never knew about M44, commonly known as the Beehive or Praesepe, during childhood. I first exclaimed "it's beautiful" when invited to look through a pair of mounted binoculars at a star party. It is an open star cluster, like the Pleiades (M45) but is slightly smaller and somewhat fainter. It is possible to see with an unaided pair of eyes but looks much better in a pair of binoculars or a small wide-field telescope. I always have a look at it when doing a binocular tour of the night sky and it is above the horizon.
Finding it is relatively easy, as it is about halfway alone a line between Pollux and Regulus in the faint constellation of Cancer. It is even visible under light pollution and thin haze. Living in Earth's northern hemisphere is a distinct advantage but I have shown it to a group of my family in Chile.
Despite being well-known as a visual object to amateur astronomers, it is not photographed very often, unlike the Orion Great Nebula (M42) and Pleiades (M45). Fortunately, it is not difficult to photograph. Having a DSLR is a great help but before I had one, I hand-held a camera to the telescope eyepiece and clicked. Before I had a digital camera, I even made a drawing made from binocular observations. This effort was taken on March 7th 2016 with a DSLR:

Further Information

Click here to see details of my book on the Messier objects
Click here to see the Wikipedia entry for M44
Click here to see the SEDS Messier database entry for M44

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