M67 - The King Cobra cluster in Cancer

Messier 67 is an open cluster in the constellation Cancer. It is also known as the King Cobra cluster but is sadly not often photographed.


Object Designation: M67

Constellation: Cancer

Object Type: Open Cluster

Distance: 2,700 light-years away

Magnitude: 6.1

Discovered in: 1779


The open cluster Messier 67 is made up of at least 500 stars. It is located not far from a much more popular object, which is another cluster, Messier 44 (also known as the Beehive Cluster). M67 appears more compact and much smaller than M44.


Messier 67 is one of the most studied open clusters out there. Its age was determined to be between 3.2 to 4 billion years, making it the oldest open cluster in the entire Messier catalog! It is also known to have a mass of more than 1080 the one of our sun.


In astrophotography, the cluster looks mostly white and yellow, with some orange stars here and there. Researchers estimated that the cluster contained at least 150 white dwarfs.



The image below is our result of M67. It was taken from a Bortle 4 area and totals just one hour of exposure.


Messier 67 with the QHY600C


GEAR USED:

Camera: QHY600C

Telescope: Stellarvue SVX130

Mount: Paramount MyT

Guiding: ZWO ASI 290MM Mini

Accessories: Moonlite Nightcrawler focuser

Processing: PixInsight

ACQUISITION DETAILS:

Total Exposure Time: 1 hour

Exposure Time per frame: 30 seconds

Filters: N/A

Gain: 26



How to find Messier 67?

M67 is located in the constellation Cancer, about 2,700 light-years away from Earth.

It lies near one of the constellation's bright stars, Acuben. This can easily be found by looking near the edge of Cancer, very close to the constellation Hydra.


Be careful you are actually looking at the right cluster, as M44, a much larger and brighter open cluster is located very close to M67. The Beehive Cluster is placed near the exact center of Cancer, so you should be able to eliminate this object easily when trying to spot the King Cobra.



Processing Messier 67

Messier 67 was very easy to process, just like most clusters. It took me under an hour to process both M67 and M50, two clusters imaged on the same night.


Wondering what a single 30-second shot looked like? Take a peak below!


A single 30 second shot of M67

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 67 is yet just another cluster in the Messier Catalog, but it is fairly large and looks really nice both visually and through astrophotography.


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 67? Attach your image in the comments and let us know your acquisition details!


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Clear Skies,

Galactic Hunter











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