Beehive Cluster in Perspective

June 03, 2016


Photographer: Greg Parker
Summary Authors: Greg Parker; Jim Foster
Shown above is a two-frame mosaic of the Beehive Cluster (NGC 2632) in the constellation of Cancer, now high overhead as darkness falls. Also known as M44 or Praesepe, it's seen with the unaided eye (away from city lights) as a faint smudge about midway between the bright stars Regulus and Pollux. This smudge is quite large, covering approximately three diameters of the full Moon. The Beehive is an open cluster containing hundreds of stars, lying between about 500 and 600 light years away -- one of the nearest such clusters to the Sun. Note that on the left-hand edge of the image there are two orange-yellow appearing carbon stars (carbon stars are very red); the dimmer one towards the middle is T Cancri, and the much brighter one towards the bottom is X Cancri.
Photo Details: Canon 200 mm lenses and M26C OSC CCDs. Left frame 18 x 10-minute subs, right frame 16 x 10-minute subs. Star spikes are artificial.