Messier 41 or M41 (also designated NGC 2287) is an open cluster in the constellation Canis Major. It has an apparent visual magnitude of 4.6 and its angular diameter is 38 arc-minutes. M41 lies at an estimated distance of 2300 light years. The Equinox 2000 coordinates are RA= 6h 47m, Dec= -20° 44´ which makes M41 best seen during the winter. The Messier Winter Star Chart shows the position of all Messier objects visible during that season.

The image above shows the uncropped view of M41 through the Takahashi E-180 Astrograph (North is up). A 2x enlargement of this image appears to the right.

In spite of its inclusion in the Messier Catalog, this open cluster was actually discovered by G. B. Hodierna in 1654. M41 lies 4 degrees south of Sirius. According to Kharchenko et al. (2005), the distance of M41 is 2260 light years and its diameter is 26 light years. It contains 70 stars and its estimated age is 190 million years.

For more information, see the Messier Catalog as well as specific entries for M41 in Wikipedia and SEDS.

Messier's Description of M41

January 16, 1765
`Cluster of stars below Sirius, near Rho Canis Majoris; this cluster appears nebulous in an simple refractor of one foot; it is nothing more than a cluster of small stars.'

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