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Binocular Objects (3): M44 in Cancer

This months binocular object is M 44, an open clusters that the Greeks already knew. They called it "Praesepe" (the Manger). It is also known as "The Beehive". This big open cluster lies at the heart of the constellation Cancer, between two stars, Gamma (?) and Delta Cancri (?). It has a diameter of more than 1.5 degrees. It is definitely a binocular object. As you can see on the map below, M 44 is very easy to locate. Even under suburban skies it can be detected with the naked eye, using averted vision. It's magnitude is 3.9.

M44 finderchart

Finder chart for M44. Limiting magnitude 6.5.
Credit and copyright SkyTools 2 by Capellasoft

Click here to download a printable finder chart (PDF)

I sketched M 44 using the Sky Window and 15x80 binoculars. There are several chains of stars. Just south of the clusters centre, a triangle of almost equally bright stars was visible, Burnham 584. In the 15x80 I counted about 50 stars (not all in the sketch!). The field of view represented in the sketch is about 2 degrees.


Last year I wrote an article in my "Focus On..." section about M 44. If you want to read more about this beautiful binocular object, just follow this link.

Basic data on M 44

ID:M 44 (NGC 2632, Melotte 88, Collinder 189, OCL 507
Type:Open cluster
RA: 08h:40m:19s
DEC: +19°58'31"
Magnitude: 3.9
Size: 95’
Brightest star: 6.3
Map number Sky Atlas 2000: 6
Map number Millennium SA: II-712
Map number Uranometria 1: I-141
Map number Uranometria 2: 74

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