Messier 67

This open cluster contains an unusually old population of stars.


2,700 light-years

Apparent Magnitude




object type

Open Cluster

A scattering of white and reddish stars on a black background.
Hubble's detailed view of a small portion of M67 showcases some of the open cluster's stars. The spikes surrounding many of the stars in this image are “diffraction spikes,” which occur when the glow from bright points of light reflects off of Hubble's secondary mirror support.
NASA, ESA, and J. Krist (Jet Propulsion Laboratory); Processing: Gladys Kober (NASA/Catholic University of America)

A handful of bright stars are strewn across the cosmos like sparkling sequins on velvet in this Hubble image of a section of Messier 67, also known as NGC 2682, the King Cobra Cluster, and the Golden Eye Cluster.

M67 is a collection of over 500 stars that are loosely gravitationally bound, a grouping known as an open cluster. Open clusters like this are typically quite young, but M67 is one of the oldest known open clusters at approximately 4 billion years of age ― about the same as our Sun. In fact, the cluster contains about 100 stars that are similar to our Sun in composition and age, along with many red giant and white dwarf stars. It is also home to around 30 “blue stragglers” ― odd stars that are brighter and bluer than the population from which they formed, perhaps as the result of pulling material from a binary companion. M67 is the oldest open cluster in the Messier catalog.

M67 is also unusual in its location, nearly 1,500 light-years above the plane of the Milky Way galaxy. Most open clusters are distributed along the central plane of the Milky Way.

This picture shows a ground based image of open cluster Messier 44 with many stars, and a small callout box near the right-center of the cluster that shows the location of the Hubble image.
The smaller, ground-based image (lower left) taken by the Digitized Sky Survey illustrates the small area of Messier 67 that Hubble observed.
Ground-based image: Digitized Sky Survey; Hubble image: NASA, ESA and J. Krist (Jet Propulsion Laboratory): Processing: Gladys Kober (NASA/Catholic University of America)

M67 was first recorded by German astronomer Johann Gottfried Koehler in 1779, then rediscovered and identified as a collection of stars by Charles Messier a year later. It resides about 2,700 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cancer.

To find M67, look for the upside-down Y in Cancer. M67 is west of the easternmost star in the Y. Alternately, go to the center of an imaginary line drawn between Regulus in Leo and Procyon in Canis Minor and look slightly north. M67 is visible in binoculars as a faint patch of light, and telescopes can resolve from a few up to 100 individual stars. Hubble’s image focuses in on just a small section of the cluster to show a detailed view of some of its colorful stars.

M67 is best viewed in the spring skies in the Northern Hemisphere, particularly March.

Sky map showing position of M67 in the constellation Cancer in northern skies.
This star chart for M67 represents the view from mid-northern latitudes for the given month and time.
Image courtesy of Stellarium
Sky map showing position of M67 in the constellation Cancer in southern skies.
This star chart for M67 represents the view from mid-southern latitudes for the given month and time.
Image courtesy of Stellarium

Explore Hubble's Messier Catalog

The following pages contain some of Hubble’s best images of Messier objects.

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Messier 1 (The Crab Nebula)

Better known as the Crab Nebula, Charles Messier originally mistook Messier 1 for Halley’s Comet, which inspired him to create…

A Hubble image of a ball of thousands of stars

Messier 2

Hubble's image of Messier 2 is comprised of visible and infrared wavelengths of light.

Hubble view of M3 - a ball of thousands of stars.

Messier 3

Messier 3 holds more than 500,000 stars.