M41 Star Cluster

M41 is a magnitude 4.5 open cluster that is visible to the naked eye. The galactic star cluster has about 25 bright members and a total of approximately 100 stars recognized as true members of the cluster. One of the brightest members of the group is a reddish K-type giant near the center of the cluster that shines at about 700 times the luminosity of the Sun. M41 is 2260 light-years away, and is receding from us at a radial velocity of 20 miles per second. This cluster was known to the ancients. This object was mentioned by Aristotle in 325 B.C. as one of several mysterious "cloudy spots" in the sky. Charles Messier added it to his list just before the first version of the Messier catalog was published.

This image was taken with a Canon EOS Digital Rebel camera at prime focus on a Takahashi FS-78 refractor. This was my first attempt to do astrophotography with that camera.

M41 (NGC 2287)
Constellation: Canis Major
RA: 06h 46m 00s Dec: -20d 45' 15" (J2000)
November 26, 2004
Image by Sid Leach
Scottsdale, Arizona

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