If you own a pair of binoculars or a small telescope, you may wish to take a look at the Moon on the night of 11–12 January 2020 since it lies in the constellation of Cancer, the Crab. If you look a little more closely, you’ll see that the Moon lies in the same field of view as the glorious open star cluster known as Praesepe, the Beehive Cluster, or more prosaically as Messier 44.
For observers in the British Isles, the Moon’s orbital motion doesn’t bring it closest to the Beehive Cluster until the calendar clicks onto 12 January, by which time the pair are high in the south-southeast. At their closest – 12:30am GMT (00:30 UT) – the 16-day-old waning gibbous Moon lies just three-quarters of a degree north of the heart of Praesepe. In a telescope, use your lowest magnification eyepiece and watch as the Moon glides over the northern edge of M44, occulting (passing in front of) a number of its fainter stars.