Designation: M44 / NGC 2632
Distance: 610 light years
Object type: Open Cluster
The Beehive Cluster is a bright, large open cluster (a group of stars formed from the same cloud of gas and dust) in the constellation of Cancer, the Crab. Also known as Praesepe (Latin for “manger”), M44 lies roughly 610 light years away, which makes it one of the nearest open clusters to Earth, and it spans some 15 light-years.
Visible to the naked eye, the Beehive Cluster contains around 1,000 stars, more than most nearby bright open clusters. These are fairly young stars at approximately 600 million years old (by comparison our Sun is 4.5 billion years old). The Beehive Cluster and the nearby Hyades Cluster have similar age and motion and it is therefore believed that the two clusters may have formed together from the same molecular cloud.
Mount: Sky-watcher HEQ5-Pro
Main Telescope: William Optics ZS73EDii
Main camera: ZWO ASI294MC-Pro
Main camera filter: Optolong UV/IR Cut
Guidescope: AstroEssential 50/200
Guide camera: ZWO ASI174MM
Guide camera filter: Astronomik UV/IR cut
Total integration time: 15 minutes
Acquisition software: ZWO AsiAir
Processing software: PixInsight