M41 Star Cluster

M41 is an open star cluster located 2260 light-years away. This cluster of between 70 and 100 stars is about 26 light-years in diameter. One unusual fact about this cluster is that almost 80% of the stars in the cluster are binary stars. M41 has several red giants, the brightest of which is a reddish K3 giant (HD 49091) that is about 700 times the luminosity of the Sun. The bright star to the upper left of the cluster is 12 CMa, which is a B7 blue giant 670 light-years away that is not a member of the star cluster. Under dark skies, M41 can be seen with the naked eye as a nebulous patch four degrees south of Sirius. This star cluster was included in the first list published by Charles Messier in 1769.

This is an RGB color composite CCD image taken with a Takahashi Epsilon 180ED telescope using an SBIG ST-8XE CCD. The image was taken from my backyard in Scottsdale, Arizona.

M41 (NGC 2287)
Constellation: Canis Major
RA: 06h 46m 00s Dec: -20d 45' 15" (J2000)
January 27, 2009
Image by Sid Leach
Scottsdale, Arizona

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