Enchanted Skies

Star Clusters

Saturn Visits M44, The Beehive Cluster (imaged from Las Cruces)

Saturn in M44 Map of region around M44


Object Information                                            Imaging Details

M44 (the Beehive Cluster) is a large open cluster about 500 l-y distant in the constellation Cancer. First identified by Galileo, the cluster contains hundreds of stars, many of which are double stars. In early February, 2006, Saturn paid a visit to M44. You can see Saturn's oblong shape in the center bottom on the image above.

M44 is visible to the naked eye under a dark sky as a faint patch of 'nebulosity'. Binoculars or a telescope under low power gives the best view.

This image was taken from my back yard on February 3, 2006. At the time, Saturn was less than 0.4° from the heart of the cluster.

Clicking the above image will bring up a larger, wider field image.

Orion ED80 (prime focus)
Canon 300D (type 1 modified)
IDAS LPS (light pollution)
Misc. Optics:
Williams Optics 0.8x reducer/field flattener.
22 x 30 seconds @ ISO 400
ED80 piggybacked atop an ATP wedge-mounted Celestron NexStar GPS11. Autoguiding performed with GuideDog using a ToUCam.
Images aligned and stacked in Photoshop CS. Curves/levels adjustments with Photoshop CS. Noise reduction with Noise Ninja.

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Enchanted Skies - Astrophotography by Rich Richins (all images copyright, Rich Richins)