M44 “Beehive Open Cluster”

This picture of M44 has been taken on March, 12th 2018, and is a LRGB of 15+13+5+5 of 180 seconds frame. The strange combination of LRGB frame numbers is due to the fact that being the weather very humid many frames were unusable for stacking. The high humidity is well present in the picture.

Despite the difficulty to take the frames and the poor quality, I like very much this picture. When I was a young man and got my first telescope, M44 was one of the few objects of the deep sky I could observe from the balcony of my apartment in the center of Latina, my city. I had a very narrow slice of sky visible, from the first floor, among tall buildings and, one of the most remarkable object I looked at, year after year, in winter/spring evening, was this very nice cluster that I enjoyed to watch, with my young and beautifull wife, until we changed house.

The Beehive Cluster (also known as Praesepe (Latin for “manger” even if it looks to me more a Christmas tree), M44, NGC 2632, or Cr 189), is an open cluster in the constellation Cancer. It is one of the nearest open clusters to Earth, containing a larger population of stars than other nearby bright open clusters. Under dark skies, the Beehive Cluster looks like a small nebulous object to the naked eye; as known since ancient times. Classical astronomer Ptolemy described it as “nebulous mass in the breast of Cancer”, and it was among the first objects that Galileo studied with his telescope.

Age and proper motion coincide with those of the Hyades, suggesting they may share similar origins. Both clusters also contain red giants and white dwarfs, which represent later stages of stellar evolution, along with many main sequence stars. (Wikipedia)