M50 - An Open cluster in Monoceros

Messier 50 is an open cluster in Monoceros. It is not often photographed and is located not far from the more popular Rosette Nebula.

Object Designation: M50

Constellation: Monoceros

Object Type: Open Cluster

Distance: 2,870 light-years away

Magnitude: 5.9

Discovered in: 1772

The open cluster Messier 50 is made up of about 200 stars. It is bright but pretty loose so it is not possible to see it with the naked eye. In photographs, M50 lacks any exciting feature and so is rarely imaged by the amateur astrophotography community.

Most of the stars in Messier 50 appear faint blue, with some bright orange members near the edges.

As you can see on the image on the left, the cluster pops up pretty nicely against the dark background but is not really dense. Some of the stars are really far from the center of the object.

Let's face it, M50 is not an exciting object to image, but it still deserves some love!

The image below is our result of M50. It is only one hour of total exposure and was taken from a Bortle 4 zone. Some type of very small nebula can be seen halfway between the cluster and the bottom right edge.

Messier 50 with the QHY600C


Camera: QHY600C

Telescope: Stellarvue SVX130

Mount: Paramount MyT

Guiding: ZWO ASI 290MM Mini

Accessories: Moonlite Nightcrawler focuser

Processing: PixInsight


Total Exposure Time: 1 hour

Exposure Time per frame: 30 seconds

Filters: N/A

Gain: 26

How to find Messier 50?

M50 is located in the constellation Monoceros, about 3,000 light-years away from Earth.

It is very close to the brightest star in the sky, Sirius and so is pretty easy to find.

Although you may be able to pinpoint its location, it is not possible to see with the naked eye and is difficult to observe with a pair of binoculars. The fact that Sirius is so bright and so close does not help!

Processing Messier 50

Messier 50 was a very easy target to process. It is just a simple cluster with nothing special going on so there was no tricks used in PixInsight. It took barely 30 to 40 minutes to process from beginning to end.

Below is what a 30-second single shot of this object looks like, if you are interested in knowing!

A single 30 second shot of M50

I went through our basic processing workflow to process this object as it is a simple cluster. But if you are interested in learning how I process all our more difficult images, you can download a full PDF "follow along" file that contains 77 pages, a full 1 hour and 45 minutes walkthrough tutorial video, our custom presets and even raw data HERE.

Final Thoughts

Messier 50 is... an okay open cluster. Not going to lie, it is not the most exciting deep sky object out there, but we treat it with equal love and respect as all the other targets (mostly because we needed it for our Messier table)!

We chose not to make this image available as a print because it does not meet our quality standards, but check out the prints we have for other images HERE!

Have you captured Messier 50? Attach your image in the comments and let us know your acquisition details!

Make sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube to stay up to date with our work!

Clear Skies,

Galactic Hunter


The Astrophotographer's Guidebook

Description: Discover 60 Deep Sky Objects that will considerably improve your Imaging and Processing skills! Whether you are a beginner, intermediate, or advanced astrophotographer, this detailed book of the best deep sky objects will serve as a personal guide for years to come! Discover which star clusters, nebulae, and galaxies are the easiest and most impressive to photograph for each season. Learn how to find each object in the night sky, and read our recommendations on imaging them in a quick and comprehensive way. Each target in this guide contains our advice on imaging, photos of expected results, and a useful information table. We've also included a few cool facts about each target, a map to find it in the night sky, and more!

The Astrophotographer's Journal

Description: The Astrophotographer’s Journal is a portable notebook created for the purpose of recording observations, cataloguing photographs, and writing down the wonderful memories created by this hobby. This book contains more than 200 pages to memorialize your stargazing and imaging sessions, as well as a useful chart on the last pages to index exciting or important notes. Read back on the logs to see how much progress you have made through the months, the problems you overcame, and the notes taken to improve in the future. Just as the pioneers of astronomy did in their time, look up and take notes of your observations as you are the author of this star-filled journey.

The Constellations Handbook

Description: The Constellations Handbook is a logical guide to learning the 88 constellations. Learning the constellations is difficult. Remembering them is even harder. Have you ever wanted to look up to the night sky, name any pattern of stars and be able to tell their stories? This book groups the constellations in a logical order, so that the reader can easily learn them by their origin, and see how their stories interact with one another as a group. The last pages of this book include an index of all 88 constellations, each with a slot where you can write your own personal tips and tricks in order to memorize them with ease. The Constellations Handbook is not just another guide listing all the constellations from A to Z and their location, it is the perfect companion for stargazing, and a learning journey through the ages.

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