Beehive Cluster (M 44)

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About this Image

This famous cluster, M 44, is also called Praesepe (Latin for "manger"), or the Beehive cluster. It is also one of the objects easily visible to the naked eye, and thus known since prehistoric times. M 44 and the Hyades, another famous open cluster show the same motion and age, although now separated by hundreds of light years, they seem to have a common origin in some great diffuse gaseous nebula which existed 700 to 800 million years ago. Consequently, also the stellar populations are similar, both containing red giants (M 44 at least 5 of them) and some white dwarfs. The distance to M 44 is 470 light years.
North is up.

Below you find a crop on the center of M 44 in 25/70% size.
From the left top corner to the center there are trails of 3 asteroids visible:
1. 52 Europa (about 9' SE of XX Cancri)
2. 84 Klio (about 8' E of TYC 1395-1804-1)
3. 1492 Oppolzer (about 7' S of TYC 1395-1804-1)
Many faint background galaxies are visible too -i.e. mag 16 PGC 24244 top right, mag 15 PGC 24400 below center.

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Technical Details


105mm TMB refractor with new TMB flattener at f/6.5

Mount MK100 GEM
Camera SBIG STL-11000M at -30C, internal filter wheel
Filters Astronomik LRGB
Date Mar 08, 2005.
Location Wildon/Austria
Sky Conditions mag 5 sky, clouds, temperature 0 C,
Exposure LRGB= 30:30:30:30 min (10-minute sub-exposures)
all 1x1 bin.
Processing Image aquisition and color synthesis in Maxim DL 4.0; Image calibration, aligning, mean stacking, DDP in ImagesPlus;
Photoshop: Levels, curves, color balance, Highpass filter; Noise reduction by Neatimage;