Home > Constellations, Ephemeris Program, Observing > 02/09/2015 – Ephemeris – How to find the constellation of Cancer the crab

02/09/2015 – Ephemeris – How to find the constellation of Cancer the crab

February 9, 2015

Ephemeris for Monday, February 9th.  The sun will rise at 7:52.  It’ll be up for 10 hours and 10 minutes, setting at 6:02.   The moon, 2 days before last quarter, will rise at 11:51 this evening.

A small, dim member of the zodiac is Cancer the crab.  It’s dim stars make to my eyes and upside down letter Y.  It lies between Gemini to the upper right and Leo to the lower left, especially as it is still rising in the southeastern sky at 9 p.m.  Right now the bright planet Jupiter is about half way between it and Leo.  It does have a relatively bright fuzzy object to the naked eye amongst it’s stars, positioned roughly in the center.  It was discovered as a fuzzy spot before the invention of the telescope and called Praesepe, the manger.  With the invention of the telescope it was discovered to be a loose group of stars in an open or galactic star cluster.  This easy binocular object is best known now as the Beehive cluster or M44.

Times are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan.  They may be different for your location.

Addendum

The constellation Cancer

The zodiacal constellation Cancer with Jupiter nearby in the southeast at 9 p.m. February 9, 2015. Created using Cartes du Ceil (Sky Charts).

The Beehive

The Beehive star cluster, M44. Its ancient name was the Praesepe or manger when glimpsed by the naked eye. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

M44 is a young star cluster, perhaps 600-700 million years old and only 577 light years away.  It is an open or galactic star cluster.  It only appears outside the band of the Milky Way because it’s close to us.  The same cannot be said for M67.

M67 finder chart

Finder Chart for open cluster M67, found just west of α Cancri, or Acubens. Created using Cartes du Ceil (Sky Charts).

M67 is a fuzzy spot in binoculars but really shows its beauty in telescopes.  M67 is pretty old for an open star cluster, one of the oldest known, at about the age of the Sun or a bit younger.  It’s nearly 3,000 light years away, so it really is out of the plane of the galaxy.

 

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