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RA: 08h 40m 24s
Dec: +19° 41′ 0″
Ch: MSA:712, U2:141, SA:6
Ref: SIMBAD, Collinder (1931), DAML02, Archinal&Hynes (2003)
Type: open cluster, 23m
Mag: B=3.46, V=3.1
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In the 5th edition of Webb's Celestial Objects for Common Telescopes it is described as "The Praesepe of the ancients, just resolved by the naked eye; too large for usual fields, but full of fine combinations. Two triangles will be noted; Galileo counted 36 stars in it, with his newly-constructed telescope."
The Praesepe or Beehive cluster has been known since ancient times. It is sometimes called the Manger and is one of the largest, nearest and brightest open clusters. Burnham notes that according to legend, it was used in ancient times as a weather indicator. "Aratus and Pliny have both stated that the invisibility of the object in an otherwise clear sky was considered to forecast the approach of a violent storm. ... Hipparchus (130 B.C.) called it a "little cloud" and Aratus (c. 260 B.C.) refers to it as a "little mist." According to R.H. Allen, it appeared on Bayer's charts of about 1600 under the designation 'Nubilum' or 'Cloudy One'. ... Galileo was the first to view the Beehive throgh the telescope, and was astonished and delighted by the first sight of the glittering cluster. T.W. Webb states that Galileo counted 36 bright stars; later observers have recorded over 30, down to fainter than 17th magnitude." The brightest star in the cluster is Epsilon Cancri, magnitude 6.3. There are 80 stars brighter than 10th magnitude. Burnham notes that although the cluster members are mostly normal main sequence stars, there are four orange giants of spectral type KO III (mag. 6.4, 6.4, 6.6 and 6.9.) To the naked eye, the cluster appears as a ghostly sheen of cobwebs at least a degree across, sometimes maybe two. Burnham states that some 200 stars down to mag 14 are recognized as members, but that more than 350 down to mag 17 have been recorded in the area. Only slight optical aid is needed to resolve the cluster - there are 11 stars brighter than 7th magnitude - and the first observer to resolve individual stars was Galileo. Seen through a telescope the view is not particularly impressive. The stars are widely scattered, so the best views are with instruments with a field larger than 1 degree. The cluster has no sharp boundary, and the centre is hardly brighter than the edge. There are at least seven galaxies visible in the cluster, but require at least a 12-inch to see.
(Lick Obs Bul, Vol 14, No. 420) gives the diameter as 90' and the class as 1 2 r.
A catalogue of star clusters shown on Franklin-Adams chart plates. Mem.R.A.S., 60(5), 175-186.
Journal BAA, 35, p159
Loose cluster, without distinct condensation; mean angular diam. about 2deg20'
Doig, P. (1925) Notes on the nebulae and clusters in Webb's 'Celestial Objects for Common Telescopes' (Sixth edition, Vol.ii). Part I. M.N.R.A.S., 35(5), 159.
Vorontsov-Velyaminov, B. (1925) "Catalogue of integrated magnitudes of star clusters", Astron. Nach. 226.195. Comparing the brightness of the cluster with the extrafocal images of stars, he estimates the magnitude as 4.63.
Raab, S. (1922) A research on open clusters. Lund Medd. Astron. Obs. Ser. II, 28, 1.
Discussed, based of F-A plates.
"cluster, coarse, well known group of comparatively B *s."
Bailey, S.I. (1908) A catalogue of bright stars and nebulae. Ann.Harv.Coll.Obs., 60(8), 199.
The RNGC (Sulentic and Tifft 1973) notes that this is a 4.0 mag open cluster.
Notes that this cluster "is rather too large for the telescope and requires a wide field. It is a very open and scattered cluster with three bright triangles, one of which has a fine orange star with less bright wide reddish companion northfollowing in beautiful contrast with the other stars."
Lorenzin, in the electronic version of "1000+ The Amateur Astronomers' Field Guide to Deep Sky Observing", notes: "3.1M; 1.5 degrees diameter; includes prominent open "v" with apex pointing N like a flock of geese in spring! the "BEEHIVE"; a.k.a. "PRAESEPE"; great binocular object."
quotes the famous explorer Thomas James, who was looking for a northwest passage to the Pacific. On January 31, 1632, James wrote:
"There appeared, in the beginning of the night, more Starres in the firmament than ever I had before seene by two thirds. I coudl see the Cloud in Cancer full of small Starres, and all the via lactea nothing but small Starres; and amongst the Plyades, a great many small Starres. About tenne a Clocke, the Moone did rise, and then a quarter of them was not to be seen."
(1990, Touring the Universe through Binoculars) calls it a "huge open cluster that is visible to the unaided eye on clear, dark nights ... ven the smallest field glasses will resolve many of its member stars spread across 95' of arc. Over 200 stars are counted as belonging to M44, about 75 of which are brighter than 10th mag. One of the most interesting sights to look for within M44 is the triple star Burnham 584. The three almost equally bright points of light may be found forming a small triangvle just south of the cluster's centre. Separated by 45 and 93 arcseconds, all three stars present little trouble for 7x glasses."
Bortle (Webb Society Quarterly Journal, January 1976) using 10x50 binoculars, estimates the visual magnitude as 3.4.
(Photo of cluster with gal. marked on p347)
:"The Beehive Cluster. This bright open cluster is easily seen with the naked eye from a dark sky site. It is large, over a degree in diameter, and is best seen in binoculars or viewfinder. It is a somewhat loose cluster of about 50-100 stars, with several star chains and pairs seen."
Coe, using a 13" f/5.6, notes: "Very bright, very, very large, round, not rich, little compressed. The Beehive is easily naked eye, even from a site that is somewhat light polluted. Using a tube of black paper rolled into a light shield, I could spot three stars involved with the cluster just using my naked eye. This cluster in very nice in the 11 X 80 finder, with 23 stars resolved against a dim glow. Stepping up the the 13" at 60X, M 44 almost overflows the field of view of the eyepiece. There are several nice chains of stars winding through the cluster and a nice triple star is near the center of the grouping."
Wal: ADS 6921 (q.v.): V=6.4,10.4.
naked eye - br fuzz w/maybe one or two *s res, but sfcbr so high that it is
hard to discern *s individually. BS, 29Apr1992, TSP.
7x35mm - about 80 *s res (one quad counted) out to radius of 35 Cnc on W. mod concen across center, which contains nrly all the brtr cl *s. fntr *s seem concen N of br members. BS, 29Apr1992, TSP.
6cm - sketch in logbook. 3Dec1969, FtL.
- consp trap nr center w/grps w/in two flds. 36 *s. BS, FtL.
- 22x: lg, fairly rich for its size. 55 *s in 80' area. *s assoc in sm grps rather than strings. many yel & bl *s.
7cm - vlg vbr cl best @ 11x/5.3-deg fld, which shows full extent ~4deg diam w/mod concen overall. main body 100' diam @ 20x, which shows 120 *s in this diam. the two triangles of br *s nr cen consp. BS, 15Apr1993, Anderson Mesa.
13cm - AE pair marked immed N of 41 Cnc is easy but vun=, and includes two others more distant; this is one of the cl giants. the dbl/triple plotted W of 41 Cnc is a sm triangle of brtr *s and three rather f *s immed N of them. BS, 7Feb1984, USNO.
15cm - br & over one lox fld. full of br *s of highly varied mags. 75 *s in 90' area m5-12.
- very nice 30x/1.6 deg fld, which just about encompasses bulk of cl. hard to tell about outliers, as surrounding fld mod rich. ~300 *s at this power in 1.6 deg fld. ADS 6921 nr center easy here: B comp more like m11, not m9 as per WDS; consists of wide triangle + f * nr primary. ADS 6930 not even elong @ 295x. BS, 29Mar1989, Anderson Mesa.
30cm - 149x: grps seem visolated. many have more comps.
- one * in sm triangle of brtr *s W of 41 Cnc is yel.
Cronje, observing with 10x50 binoculars, notes that this "cluster consists of quite a number of stars, but is not dense. Averted vision doesn't show anything more."
As seen in 11x80 binoculars, this cluster appears over a degree across. The cluster lies within a large triangle of three bright stars, Delta, Gamma and Eta Cancri. This triangle, longest side about 3.5 degrees, nicely fits into the binocular field of view, framing the cluster pleasantly. The cluster is very sparse and well spread out, and doesn't appear to have a very large brightness range. There are about a dozen brighter members along with several fainter stars. The brighter stars mainly lie on the south and south-eastern part of the cluster, with the fainter members to the other side. In the centre of this region of brighter stars lies a wobbly square of stars, one of which is Eta Cancri. West of Eta lies a nice double star. This double, together with the wobbly square, look like a short-handled tuning-fork lying southwest to northeast, with the prongs pointing northeast. On the northwestern edge of the cluster is a nice straggling chain of 8-9th mag stars, running northeast - southwest. No obvious colours were noted in hand-held binoculars.
In a 10-inch f/5 at 30x this cluster overflows the field. It is very well spread out, and you get the impression you are looking through the cluster. It has numerous bright stars, mostly white suns excepting for four reddish stars. It is definitely a binocular object.
Sky Conditions: Poor: Cloudy
Quality of Observation: Moderate
6" Dobsonian, 25mm & 10mm Eyepieces
As a massive open cluster of stars grouped together, the Beehive cluster is very easily visible with the naked eye, but through a telescope the bright stars visible stand out form the surrounding and background stars. Due to the large area the Beehive cluster I spread over it is best viewed at 48x magnification. The brilliance of this cluster is captivating to say the least and very little words can actually describe it beauty. Therefore it is best observed to experience it wonder and awe. To the naked eye this cluster is clearly visible as a soft grey cloud-like object in the skies.
12-inch f5 (EP: 26mm SW, 20mm UW, 7mm UW)
Conditions: The most clear sky possible. Dark moon and stars magnitude 6 and fainter are visible with the naked eye. Excellent clean sky, limited star flickering and brilliant objects. Limiting Magnitude: 6.2.
Open Cluster located in Cancer. Extremely Bright, Irregular shape. This cluster is well separated because the bright individual stars are well separated from each other in the form of a beehive. 220 individual stars are seen. Most of the stars in this cluster are nearly the same brightness as each other. Not at all concentrated; there are plenty of starless patches. No chains of stars seen. No obvious prominent stars. Two striking coloured stars are seen: a red companion and an orange companion.
Observing site: Little Tycho Observatory
[8h 40m 6s, 19� 59m 0s] A large, sparse, cluster of bright stars, many of them double
Location: Bonnievale SSP (Night Sky Caravan Park)
Binoculars: Canon 12x36 IS (5-deg fov)
Sky conditions: Excellent (9/10)
Quality of observation: Good
Northern Beehive Cluster (open). Impressive and complex 50+ stars binocs. m = 3. size about 90-arcmin (70-arcmin cat.)
The Messier objects
The Bennett objects
The Caldwell list
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