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Utah State Astronomical Symbol

The Beehive Cluster (also known as M44)

The Beehive Cluster (also known as M44): Utah State Astronomical Symbol

Adopted in 1996

The state astronomical symbol is the Beehive Cluster located in the constellation of Cancer the Crab. (Utah Code) Adopted in 1996.

Look at the upper right corner of the map above and locate Cancer and just below is M44.

Utah State Astronomical Symbol:
The Beehive Cluster (also known as M44)

Again, the Salt Lake Tribune in their January 22,1996 article, stated that Lawmakers passed House Bill 140 which designated a dim group of stars known as the Beehive Cluster as Utah's state astronomical symbol. A fact sheet about the bill gave the following reasoning for this designation. "This symbol, composed of a hive of stars, transposes our beehive symbol to a new and grand level as we enter our second century as a group of people living in a place where we can still see, with our own eyes, the beautiful and dim features of the starry universe."

M44, called Praesepe, or the Beehive, is located in the middle of the constellation Cancer, the Crab. It is one of the most prominent clusters, visible to the naked eye, but better viewed with binoculars and telescopes reveal hundreds of stars.

M44 is a prominent open cluster of stars. Nicknamed Praesepe and "The Beehive", it is one of the few open clusters visible to the unaided eye. M44 was thought to be a nebula until Galileo used an early telescope to resolve the cluster's bright blue stars. These stars are visible in the above image. M44, which is thought to have formed about 400 million years ago, is larger and older than most other open clusters. The Beehive Cluster lies about 580 light-years away, and spans about 10 light-years across. When viewed with a powerful telescope, hundreds of stars become visible.

Utah Law

The law designating the Beehive Cluster located in the constellation of Cancer the Crab as the official Utah state centennial astronomical symbol is found in the Utah Statutes, Title 63, Chapter 13, Section 63-13-5.5 (3).

TITLE 63. State Affairs in General.
CHAPTER 13. Miscellaneous Provisions.
SECTION 63-13-5.5. State Symbols.

63-13-5.5. State symbols.
(1) Utah's state animal is the elk.
(2) Utah's state bird is the sea gull.
(3) Utah's state centennial astronomical symbol is the Beehive Cluster located in the constellation of Cancer the Crab.
(4) Utah's state centennial star is Dubhe, one of the seven bright stars composing the Big Dipper in the constellation Ursa Major.
(5) Utah's state centennial tartan, which honors the first Scots known to have been in Utah and those Utahns of Scottish heritage, shall have a pattern or repeating-half-sett of white-2, blue-6, red-6, blue-4, red-6, green-18, red-6, and white-4 to represent the tartan worn anciently by the Logan and Skene clans, with the addition of a white stripe.
(6) Utah's state cooking pot is the dutch oven.
(7) Utah's state emblem is the beehive.
(8) Utah's state fish is the Bonneville cutthroat trout.
(9) Utah's state flower is the sego lily.
(10) Utah's state folk dance is the square dance, the folk dance that is called, cued, or prompted to the dancers and includes squares, rounds, clogging, contra, line, and heritage dances.
(11) Utah's state fossil is the Allosaurus.
(12) Utah's state fruit is the cherry.
(13) Utah's state vegetable is the Spanish sweet onion.
(14) Utah's historic state vegetable is the sugar beet.
(15) Utah's state gem is topaz, as is prominently found in the Thomas Mountain Range in Juab County, Utah.
(16) Utah's state grass is Indian rice grass.
(17) Utah's state hymn is "Utah We Love Thee" by Evan Stephens.
(18) Utah's state insect is the honeybee.
(19) Utah's state mineral is copper.
(20) Utah's state motto is "Industry."
(21) Utah's state railroad museum is Ogden Union Station.
(22) Utah's state rock is coal.
(23) Utah's state song is "Utah This is the Place" by Sam and Gary Francis.
(24) Utah's state tree is the blue spruce.

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