Beehive Cluster M44

NGC 2632

An open cluster in Cancer

Magnitude: +3.1Diameter: 12 light years.
Apparent size: 70 arc minDistance: 610 light years.

I started getting serious about amateur astronomy when I bought my second telescope in 2008 and began going regularly to field nights with other members of Macarthur Astronomical Society. Like many new visual observers, I began with the Messier List of 110 bright objects and raced to see how many of them I could tick off. I recall reaching a hundred, with the inclusion of two northerly objects spotted in Cassiopeia, M52 and M103 when I was in the UK.

The Society handed out achievement certificates to members who had spotted 30/60/90/100 Messiers through the eyepiece – but I didn’t qualify because I used a ‘goto’ telescope. 🥴

When a globular cluster hunt was proposed, to see who could spy the most globs throughout the course of the evening, I was banned again of course, which I was ok with – but it amused me and I drew this stickman cartoon for our monthly magazine:

Since I bought my latest telescope – specifically for the purpose of astro-imaging – I’ve kept track of the objects I’ve imaged and started, once again to tally how many Messiers I’ve imaged.

Capturing long-exposure astro-images is a somewhat longer process than quickly observing them though an eyepiece – and I’ve complicated it even further by including the Caldwell List as well.

It’s a long haul and because there aren’t too many nebulae in these two lists I need to choose objects to image from other lists as well. This is because Messier created his list of fuzzy objects to help astronomers distinguish between permanent fuzzies like globular clusters and transient fuzzies like comets.

So how am doing, I hear you ask? Well, so far I’ve imaged 38 of the 110 Messiers and 45 of the 109 Caldwell objects. One globular cluster arguably looks much like all the others, so I might give it a break and go look for some nebulae for a while – and I don’t expect a certificate if I reach fifty!

🐝 🐝 🐝 🐝 🐝

The Beehive Cluster (above) is one of those permanent fuzzy naked eye objects that resolve into stars with binoculars and is a favourite at public nights. It’s estimated to include over a thousand stars, two thirds of which are tiny Class M dwarfs and too dim to show up in my twenty-two minute image.

Just don’t ask me why it’s called The Beehive……

🐝 🐝 🐝 🐝 🐝

Image Details

Feature image date:2021-04-02
Exposure:22.5 minutes (6 x 225 sec)
Field of View:1.59° x 1.06° (up is 50.3 degrees E of N)

Location of Messier 44 and Constellation of Cancer

If the Astrometry images do not appear it is because the Astrometry website is sometimes off line.

Thanks for reading!

Telescope & Imaging Details

SkyWatcher Esprit 120 mm apochromatic 3-element refractor; 840 mm f/l @ f/7.
Field flattener; ZWO Duo-band Hα (656nm) and [OIII] (500nm) filter.
SkyWatcher EQ6-R Pro mount; ZWO ASI120 guide camera.
Imaging camera: ZWO ASI 071 MC Pro (CMOS 28.4mm 16 Mpx).
Software: Telescope control: Cartes du Ciel, EQMOD, PHD2, Imaging: SharpCap, Gimp.
Observatory location: 34° South.

Images © Roger Powell

I’m one of the founder members of Macarthur Astronomical Society and its current webmaster.


  1. This is one of my favorites each year. Praesepe seems to have been observed by the ancients, according to some. I tried to find reliable sources as to why it is called Beehive. Most said ‘because it looks like a swarm of bees.’ That left me still wondering.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I see it called ‘Praesepe’ in reference books but I’ve never heard anyone call it anything but ‘The Beehive’.

      I don’t think I could even pronounce the word! 🙄

      Liked by 1 person

  2. . . . maybe it reminds someone of a hairdo . . . OR . . . “busy as a—” . . . OR . . . whoever named it just wanted to mess with people and have them spend time wondering about the name.

    Two of those stars have the horizontal ring-like look . . . your lens again?


    1. 🏆 You win the lucky dip prize for being the first to spot it.

      Yes, if you check back on a few of my recent images, the Saturn effect in that region of the pictures is far too often evident. I could try to remove it in the processing I suppose but I prefer to leave it as a reminder that I still have a problem to solve, somewhere in the optics or on the CMOS chip.


      1. It passes mainly unnoticed because it has a similarity to the X shaped diffractions spikes which are always produced from reflector telescopes (and sometimes in camera due to the iris shape).

        Which may be a clue to help me resolve the issue.


      2. That sound I heard must be all them words whooshing over my head.

        . . . but I’m glad you have a clue.

        Just out of curiosity, once you know what it is, why not turn it on for all the stars?

        Liked by 1 person

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