M48 Open Star Cluster

M48 is a magnitude 5.8 galactic star cluster that was discovered by Charles Messier in 1771. However, there is some controversy about this Messier object, because it is not located at the position recorded by Messier. The position that Messier gave is four degrees north of M48, but there is no cluster at that location. From Messier's description, there is little doubt that the object he identified as M48 was identical to this star cluster. During Messier's time, position measurements were not as accurate as is possible today, although an error in declination of four degrees is a relatively large error.

M48 is a large cluster spread over an area of about 30 arc-minutes. A central arcing chain of stars dominates the cluster. M48 has three type G or K yellow giants, and the remainder of the cluster members are type A main sequence stars. M48 is located about 1600 light-years away.

This is an RGB color composite CCD image taken with a Takahashi FCT-150 using an ST-8XE.

M48 (NGC 2548)
Constellation: Hydra
RA:08h 14m 02s Dec:-05d 46' 11"
February 19, 2006
Image by Sid Leach
Scottsdale, Arizona

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