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Posts Tagged ‘Beehive Cluster’

03/03/2022 – Ephemeris – Finding Cancer the crab

March 3, 2022 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Thursday, March 3rd. Today the Sun will be up for 11 hours and 16 minutes, setting at 6:33, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:15. The Moon, 1 day past new, will set at 7:46 this evening.

The constellation of Cancer the crab is made of dim stars, which are generally connected, in constellation charts, with lines that make either the letter K or an upside down Y, which lie directly between the star pair Castor and Pollux in Gemini and Regulus in Leo. In the center of the constellation is, what to the naked-eye is a fuzzy spot called Praesepe, or the manger. The two nearby stars, one to the northeast, and one to the southeast are Asellus Borealis, and Asellus Australis, the northern and southern donkey colts feeding out of the manger. Viewing that fuzzy spot with a pair of binoculars will reveal that it’s not fuzzy at all. It resolves into a cluster of stars, which astronomers, over the years, have called the Beehive cluster. Back in the first and second century CE, the Sun entered Cancer to begin the season of summer. It’s now just a transitional constellation between the winter and spring evening skies.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EST, UT – 5 hours). They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Cancer the Crab

Cancer, the crab finder chart. Note the beehive cluster, also known to amateur astronomers as M44, along with other catalog names. Prior to the invention of the telescope this cluster was known as Praesepe which means “Manger”. Click on the image to enlarge it. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

Closer look at Cancer

A closer look at Cancer, noting the donkey stars Asellus Borealis and Australis feeding at the manger, Praesepe or M44, aka: the Beehive Cluster. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts) and LibreOffice for captions. Adapted from a chart I created for the March 2022 issue of the GTAS newsletter, the Stellar Sentinel.

03/13/2020 – Ephemeris – Looking for Cancer the crab

March 13, 2020 Comments off

Ephemeris for Friday, March 13th. Today the Sun will be up for 11 hours and 49 minutes, setting at 7:47, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:56. The Moon, 3 days before last quarter, will rise at 1:01 tomorrow morning.

Between the stars Castor and Pollux in Gemini high in the southeast and the star Regulus in Leo the Lion in the east-southeast lies the dimmest constellation of the zodiac, Cancer the crab. To me its 5 brightest stars make an upside down Y. There’s the stars in the center of the constellation Asellus Borealis and Asellus Australis, the north and south donkeys. There’s a fuzzy spot between and just west of them called Praesepe, the manger from which they are supposedly eating. In binoculars it resolves into a cluster of stars called the Beehive cluster. We amateur astronomers also know it as M44, the 44th object on 18th century comet hunter Charles Messier’s list of fuzzy objects that might be mistaken for comets.

The event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Cancer the Crab

Cancer the crab finder chart. Note the beehive cluster, also known to amateur astronomers as M44, along with other catalog names. Prior to the invention of the telescope this cluster was known as Praesepe which means “Manger”. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

The constellation Cancer with star names and Praesepe. Asellus Borealis, the Northern Donkey; and Asellus Australis, the Southern Donkey are next to Praesepe the manger. Created using Stellarium.

We only hear about a manger at Christmas time.  It is simply a trough that horses, donkeys, and cattle eat from.

03/26/2018 – Ephemeris – The Moon will slide below the Beehive star cluster tonight

March 26, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Monday, March 26th. The Sun will rise at 7:34. It’ll be up for 12 hours and 28 minutes, setting at 8:02. The Moon, 2 days past first quarter, will set at 5:34 tomorrow morning.

Tonight the gibbous Moon will be seen among the stars of Cancer the crab. It will just about completely drown Cancer’s dim stars out. That is no exception to one of the famous group of stars in Cancer, the Beehive star cluster. It is going to take binoculars or a small telescope to spot them. The star cluster will be at the 11 o’clock position from the Moon. When looking for the cluster try to keep the Moon out of your field of view. The cluster is about 4 moon-widths away, so aim high and slowly aim those binoculars down. There will be other times in the next few months to catch the Moon near the Beehive, when the Moon will be a not so overwhelming crescent as the cluster moves westward in the evening sky with the rest of the stars.

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

Addendum

The Moon and the Beehive Star Cluster

The Moon and the Beehive Star Cluster tonight at 9 p.m. March 26, 2018. The star cluster will be very difficult to spot. Created using Stellarium, however I had to boost the brightness of the stars and eliminate the atmosphere control to darken the sky enough to see the cluster. Good luck!

Cancer the Crab

Cancer the crab finder chart for a dark night. Note the beehive cluster, also known to amateur astronomers as M44, along with other catalog names. Prior to the invention of the telescope this cluster was known as Praesepe which means “Manger”. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

03/19/2018 – Ephemeris – The dim zodiacal constellation of Cancer the crab

March 19, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Monday, March 19th. The Sun will rise at 7:47. It’ll be up for 12 hours and 6 minutes, setting at 7:54. The Moon, 2 days past new, will set at 10:21 this evening.

At 10 this evening, the faint constellation, and member of the Zodiac, Cancer the crab is located in the south half way between the bright stars Castor and Pollux of the constellation Gemini, high in the south and the bright star Regulus in Leo the lion in the southeast. Cancer is very dim, looking like an upside-down Y or even a K if all its stars can be made out. In the center of Cancer is a fuzzy spot to the unaided eye. In binoculars or a low power telescope this fuzzy spot becomes a cluster of stars. It is the Beehive cluster. At 577 light years away, according to the latest measurements, it is one of the closest star clusters. A week from tonight the Moon will pass below this cluster, by about 4 of its diameters.

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

Addendum

Cancer the Crab

Cancer the crab finder chart. Note the beehive cluster, also known to amateur astronomers as M44, along with other catalog names. Prior to the invention of the telescope this cluster was known as Praesepe which means “Manger”. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

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 (Skycharts)

03/21/2017 – Ephemeris – Let’s find Cancer the crab

March 21, 2017 Comments off

Ephemeris for Tuesday, March 21st.  The Sun will rise at 7:43.  It’ll be up for 12 hours and 13 minutes, setting at 7:56.  The Moon, 1 day past last quarter, will rise at 4:26 tomorrow morning.

At 10 this evening, the faint constellation, and member of the Zodiac, Cancer the crab is located in the south half way between the bright stars Castor and Pollux of the constellation Gemini, high in the south and the bright star Regulus in Leo the lion in the southeast.  Cancer is very dim, looking like an upside-down Y if it’s stars can be made out.  In the center of Cancer is a fuzzy spot to the unaided eye.  In binoculars or a low power telescope this fuzzy spot becomes a cluster of stars.  It is the Beehive cluster.  At 577 light years away, according to the latest measurements, it is one of the closest star clusters, but more distant than the Pleiades and Hyades the face of Taurus the bull off in the west.

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

Addendum

Cancer the Crab

Cancer the crab finder chart. Note the beehive cluster, also known to amateur astronomers as M44, along with other catalog names. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

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 (Skycharts)

02/25/2016 – Ephemeris – The Crab and the Beehive

February 25, 2016 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, February 25th.  The Sun will rise at 7:27.  It’ll be up for 10 hours and 56 minutes, setting at 6:24.   The Moon, 3 days past full, will rise at 9:29 this evening.

At 9 this evening, the faint constellation, and member of the Zodiac, Cancer the crab will be located in the southeastern sky half way between the bright stars Castor and Pollux of the constellation Gemini, high in the south and the bright star Regulus in Leo the lion and Jupiter in the east.  Cancer is very dim, looking like an upside-down Y.  In the center of Cancer is a fuzzy spot to the unaided eye.  In binoculars or a low power telescope this fuzzy spot becomes a cluster of stars.  It is Messier 44 or the Beehive star cluster.  At 577 light years away, it is one of the closest star clusters, but more distant than the Pleiades and Hyades the face of Taurus the bull.  Of the three the Pleiades is the youngest at 100 million years.  The Beehive is 7 times older.

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

Addendum

Cancer Finder Chart

Cancer Finder Chart. Created using Stellarium.

The Beehive

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

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

February 9, 2015 Comments off

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.

 

03/03/2014 – Ephemeris – The dim zodiacal constellation of Cancer the Crab

March 3, 2014 Comments off

Ephemeris for Monday, March 3rd.  The sun will rise at 7:16.  It’ll be up for 11 hours and 16 minutes, setting at 6:33.   The moon, 2 days past new, will set at 9:44 this evening.

At 9 this evening, the faint constellation, and member of the Zodiac, Cancer the crab is located in the south-southeast half way between the bright stars Castor and Pollux of the constellation Gemini, high in the south and the bright star Regulus in Leo the lion in the east  Cancer is very dim, looking like an upside-down Y.  In the center of Cancer is a fuzzy spot to the unaided eye.  In binoculars or a low power telescope this fuzzy spot becomes a cluster of stars.  It is the Beehive cluster.  At 525 light years away, it is one of the closest star clusters, but more distant than the Pleiades and Hyades the face of Taurus the bull.  Back a few thousand years ago Cancer was the farthest north of the constellations, Gemini has that honor today.

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

Addendum

Cancer

The constellation Cancer the crab at 9 p.m. March 3, 2014. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Skycharts).

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 (Skycharts)