|Observation data (J2000 epoch)|
|Right ascension||06h 46.0m |
|Distance||2,300 ly (710 pc)|
|Apparent magnitude (V)||4.5|
|Apparent dimensions (V)||38 arcmin|
|Estimated age||190 million yrs|
|Other designations||M41, NGC 2287|
Messier 41 (also known as M41 or NGC 2287) is an open cluster in the constellation Canis Major, sometimes referred to as The Little Beehive Cluster. It was discovered by Giovanni Batista Hodierna before 1654 and was perhaps known to Aristotle about 325 BC. It lies about four degrees almost exactly south of Sirius, with which it forms a roughly equilateral triangle with Nu2 Canis Majoris to the west—all three figure in the same field in binoculars.
The cluster covers an area about the size of the full Moon. It contains about 100 stars, including several red giants the brightest of which has spectral type K3, apparent magnitude 6.3 and is near the center, and some white dwarfs. The cluster is estimated to be moving away from us at 23.3 km/s. The diameter of the cluster is 25–26 light-years (7.7–8.0 pc). It is estimated to be 190 million years old, and cluster properties and dynamics suggest a total life expectancy of 500 million years for this cluster, before it will have disintegrated.
Many visual observers speak of seeing curved lines of stars in M41. Although they seem inconspicuous on photographs, the curves stand out strongly in my 10-inch [reflecting telescope], and the bright red star near the center of the cluster is prominent.
The bright red/orange star near the center is HIP 32406, a giant star of spectral type K2, about 1500 ly away of magnitude 6.9.
M41 in an 8" telescope
M41 finder chart
Open cluster M41 taken from a 12-inch Dobson telescope in Viña del Mar
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- The Dog Star and the Little Beehive Cluster
- M41 possibly recorded by Aristotle
- Kambic, Bojan (2009). Viewing the Constellations with Binoculars: 250+ Wonderful Sky Objects to See and Explore. New York, New York: Springer. p. 230. ISBN 978-0-387-85355-0.
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- Houston, Walter Scott (2005). Deep-Sky Wonders. Sky Publishing Corporation. ISBN 978-1-931559-23-2.
- Messier 41 on WikiSky: DSS2, SDSS, GALEX, IRAS, Hydrogen α, X-Ray, Astrophoto, Sky Map, Articles and images
- Messier 41, SEDS Messier pages
- NightSkyInfo.com – M41
- M41 Hires LRGB CCD Image