Astro photography

The Moon and Beehive Cluster

The Moon and The Beehive, August 28, 2008. This large open star cluster, next to the Moon, has been known since antiquity and it has several names. Located in the constellation of Cancer, its Messier designation is M44. When viewed through a telescope or binoculars some people think it looks like a swarm of bees, and so it's also known as The Beehive Cluster. To the unaided eye the cluster looks like a hazy patch in the night sky. Its ancient name is Praesepe which means "the manger."

This late summer photograph was taken at 5:22 a.m. EDT just as dawn was starting to brighten the eastern sky. The Moon was just two days before new, and it shows a characteristic Earthshine — sunlight reflecting off of the daylight side of the Earth is bright enough to light the Moon's shadow regions.

The Beehive is on the ecliptic, which is the path across the sky that the Sun, Moon and planets seem to follow, so it is often visited like this by a solar system body. Here is another perspective of The Beehive, taken in 2006, with Saturn and Mars.

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Steve Irvine
R.R. # 2
Wiarton, Ontario
Canada N0H 2T0
(519) 534 2175