M44 - Beehive Cluster

by Chuck February 10, 2010

After taking a look at the Orion Nebula Katie and I decided to look around for some more easy-to-find Messier objects. Since the Beehive Cluster was very near to Mars – a quite recognizable landmark in tonight’s sky – I gave it a try.

At first I couldn’t find it. I was confused by the star chart and looked down and to the left of Mars when in fact the cluster was down and to the right. I gave up on finding it and decided to take one more look at Mars before calling it a night. As I swung the binoculars up to take in Mars, there it was.

At first I wasn’t completely sure what I was seeing. Surely it was a Messier object -- there was marked at that location on the Astronomy magazine star chart. I just wasn’t sure which object it was. In these situations, Google is your friend, and the very first image Google returned looked almost exactly like what I saw through my binoculars. See it for yourself here.

In my binoculars it is a bright mass of stars with a few very bright blue stars that shine out. When I had it in my binoculars the bright light of Mars was just out of the field of view of the binoculars, helpful since Mars was brighter than Sirius tonight.

Katie got a chance to see it too, so her bag of Messier objects is still the same size as mine.


Backyard Astronomy

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