Crescent Moon Passes the Beehive
The aging moon has completely vacated the evening sky as it slides towards the pre-dawn sun, leaving nights extra dark all over the world. Combining that with earlier sunsets (in the Northern Hemisphere) and still-mild temperatures, and we get perfect conditions for stargazing!
This week will begin with the crescent moon rising well after midnight local time, and sitting among the waist stars of the twin figures of Gemini. In the eastern sky on Tuesday, the moon will be positioned about a palm’s width above (or to the celestial west of) the large, bright, open star cluster known as the Beehive, Praesepe, and Messier 44. On Wednesday morning, the moon’s orbital motion will place it about the same distance below (to the east of) the Beehive. Observers in Asia will get to see the moon pass through the cluster.
The Beehive Cluster is also known as Praesepe, M44, NGC 2632, or Cr 189. It is an open cluster in the constellation Cancer and one of the nearest open clusters to Earth. Under dark skies, the Beehive Cluster looks like a small nebulous object to the naked eye.
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