M44, a loose open cluster of stars, is commonly known as the Beehive cluster. It is also named Praesepe which is Latin for “manger”. It is visible under dark skies with the naked eye and was known to Aratos in 260 BC. The cluster is approximately 577 light years from the Earth in the constellation Cancer. The cluster spans an angular distance of about 95 minutes of arc, which is greater than the field of view of the image above. Many of the bright stars in the cluster are grouped in threes giving it a very distinct appearance when viewed through the eyepiece of a telescope. The age of M44 has been determined to be about 790 million years. The cluster has at least 5 red giant stars of which some are visible in the image above. Whether viewed through a telescope, or in a CCD image, the Beehive cluster is an impressive sight.