Messier 52 or M52 (also designated NGC 7654) is an open cluster in the constellation Cassiopeia. It has an apparent visual magnitude of 7.3 and its angular diameter is 13 arc-minutes. M52 lies at an estimated distance of 5000 light years. The Equinox 2000 coordinates are RA= 23h 24.2m, Dec= +61° 35´ which makes M52 best seen during the autumn. The Messier Autumn Star Chart shows the position of all Messier objects visible during that season.

The image above shows the uncropped view of M52 through the Takahashi E-180 Astrograph (North is to right). A 3x enlargement of this image appears to the right.

This open cluster was discovered by Messier in 1774. According to Kharchenko et al. (2005), the distance of M52 is 4630 light years and its diameter is 22 light years. It contains 6000 stars and its estimated age is 25-165 million years.

For more information, see the Messier Catalog as well as specific entries for M52 in Wikipedia and SEDS.

Messier's Description of M52

September 7, 1774
`Cluster of very small [faint] stars, mingled with nebulosity, which can be seen only with an achromatic telescope. It was when he observed the Comet which appeared in this year that M. Messier saw this cluster, which was close to the comet on the 7th of September 1774; it is below the star d Cassiopeiae: that star was used to determine [the position of] both the cluster of stars and the comet.'

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