M44 is a magnitude 3.1 galactic star cluster that was known to the ancients. Also called the Praesepe, this object is visible to the naked eye as a hazy nebulous glow in the constellation of Cancer. This cluster is one of the nearest, largest, and brightest star clusters in the sky. Hipparchus referred to it as a "little cloud" in 130 B.C. M44 was first observed with a telescope by Galileo, who immediately recognized its true nature as a glittering array of stars. Using primitive early telescopes, Galileo counted a total of 39 stars in the group. However, a total of about 200 stars between magnitude 6.3 to magnitude 14 are members of the cluster. The star cluster spans a volume that is 40 light-years in diameter.
This is an RGB color composite CCD image taken with a Takahashi FS-78 using an ST-8XE.
M44 (NGC 2632)
RA: 08h 39m 57s Dec: +19d 40' 21" (J2000)
November 25, 2007
Image by Sid Leach
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