M50 Open Star Cluster

M50 is a nice magnitude 5.9 open star cluster that can be easily found with binoculars northeast of Sirius in the direction of Procyon. Charles Messier discovered this galactic star cluster in April 1772 while observing a comet. This is believed to be the same object noted by G.D. Cassini prior to 1711. The single prominent reddish star on the right side of the cluster in this image is located about 7 arc-minutes from the center of the cluster. This red M-giant star stands out well from the other stars in the M50 cluster and provides a highlight to the view of this sparkling swarm of stars. This cluster is about 2900 light-years away and occupies a space that is about 9 light-years in diameter. M50 has a total luminosity that is approximately 1600 times that of our Sun. M50 is the only object in the constellation of Monoceros that made the Messier list. However, in spite of their failure to be listed in Messier's Catalog, there are several beautiful nebulae in Monoceros, including the Seagull Nebula and the Rosette Nebula.

This is an RGB color composite CCD image taken with a Takahashi FCT-150 using an ST-8XE. This image was taken from my backyard in Scottsdale.

M50 (NGC 2323)
Constellation: Monoceros
RA:07h 03m 06s Dec:-08d 23' 34"
March 4 & April 10, 2006
Image by Sid Leach
Scottsdale, Arizona

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