Around the Sky in 28 Days – Day 25
October 2, 2010
You have to be up pretty early in the morning to catch the Moon tonight. If you do happen to be up, take a pair of binoculars and look a few Moon diameters to its upper left. There you will catch another of the brightest, closest star clusters (in addition to the Pleiades and Hyades that we saw earlier).
Messier 44 (M44) is also colloquially called the Beehive Cluster because its resemblance to a swarm of bees. If the sky is dark enough you may even be able to see the cluster naked eye as a small glow. Located ~520-610 light-years away, this cluster is estimated to be ~600 million years ago. Its age and motion are similar to the Hyades and both may have formed in a similar part of the Milky Way.