The Beehive Cluster, March 20, 2007. This large open cluster, just to the left of centre, 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."
The two bright stars above and below the cluster on the left are sometimes called Asellus Borealis and Asellus Australis the northern and southern donkeys, come to feed at the manger! In the northern hemisphere The Beehive Cluster is high overhead on spring nights, and it is a fine sight in a pair of binoculars. Here is another perspective of The Beehive, taken a year earlier, with Saturn and Mars in between the "donkeys."
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