Messier 48 or M48 (also designated NGC 2548) is an open cluster in the constellation Hydra. It has an apparent visual magnitude of 5.5 and its angular diameter is 54 arc-minutes. M48 lies at an estimated distance of 1500 light years. The Equinox 2000 coordinates are RA= 8h 13.8m, Dec= -05° 48´ which makes M48 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 M48 through the Takahashi E-180 Astrograph (North is up). A 2x enlargement of this image appears to the right.

This open cluster was discovered by Messier in 1771. Under favorable conditions it is visible to the naked eye as a fuzzy patch. According to Kharchenko et al. (2005), the distance of M48 is 2510 light years and its diameter is 22 light years. It contains 165 stars and its estimated age is 300 million years.

For more information, see the Messier Catalog as well as specific entries for M48 in Wikipedia and SEDS.

Messier's Description of M48

February 19, 1771
`Cluster of very small [faint] stars, without nebulosity; this cluster is at a short distance from the three stars that form the beginning of the Unicorn's tail.'

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