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23 February 2004: M44 in Cancer

Sunday night, I observed M 44 from my own backyard, using 15x80 binoculars, mounted on the sky window. This is a true binocular object. The conditions where good (for two hours). I could see all the major stars that form the Constellation of Cancer, including the two stars north and south of the Praesepe M44), Asellus Borealis and Asellus Australis, with the naked eye. Even M 44 was visible using averted vision. M 67 was only visible in binoculars. This sketch should give you an idea of how the constellation of Cancer looks like, and where you can find M 44 and M 67.

Sketch M44 and M67

In the 15 x 80 I counted about 50 stars. Just south of the clusters centre, a triangle of almost equally bright stars was visible, Burnham 584. I don't know if it was my imagination, but I suspected a hint of yellow or orange in the star at the tip of the triangle. In the next two hours I stayed with this big open cluster and tried to make a sketch of it. At 00.15 hours UT on Monday morning the clouds again covered the sky, but it had been a great weekend of deep sky observing. Here is a very rough sketch of M 44. The final version will be published in my deep sky section within a few weeks.

Sketch M44

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