M44 = NGC2632 ( 8h 40.1m +19°59´, 3.1 mag. )
Preasepe (or Beehive) open star cluster in Cancer was known since antiquity. It is visible with a naked eye as a hazy spot just West of g Cancri and d Cancri and it is fully resolved in binoculars (see finder chart below). Messier observed it on March 4, 1769. Located about 515 ly away, it measures over 11 ly across and contains 200 stars.
M44 image shown above was taken without any filters with Cookbook 245 LDC CCD camera attached to 135mm f4 lens on Feb.14, 1999 from Sooke, BC. Ten exposures (30 sec. each) were processed with AIP4WIN. Due to the CCD's sensitivity to near infrared, cool stars are brighter compared to visual observation or photographic image and their images are surrounded by large halo of unfocused light giving them comet-like appearence (this image was focused using hot M44 members as a target). The brightest of them are indicated on the image below.
North is to the right.
Map created in Guide 7.0 - 7°45' x 7°45' , North is up.
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© Jan Wisniewski