M13 – The Great Globular Cluster in Hercules

Messier object 13 is a large globular cluster in the constellation, Hercules. It is one of the most prominent globular clusters in the Northern celestial hemisphere. Discovered by Edmond Halley in 1714 who observed that the cluster can be seen with the unaided eye in dark enough conditions (back then, that meant without a large moon washing out the sky, not so much city lights). Charles Messier cataloged M13 on June 1, 1764. It lies approximately 25,100 light years away from Earth with a diameter of 20′ (20 arcminutes) or 145 light years visually. There are several hundreds of thousands of stars in the cluster where most of them are highly concentrated in the core of the cluster.

Location of M13 in Hercules.

Location of M13 in Hercules.

With the unaided eye in a clear dark location you can easily spot the faint fuzzy look of M13 in Hercules. With binoculars or a small telescope the core becomes quite prominent, and with a larger scope still you can begin to focus some of the stars away from the dense core. Excellent object for any beginner to look at and is relatively easily to find.

M13 – The Great Globular Cluster in Hercules taken in the early hours of June 8, 2014.

This image is 13 images at 5 minutes and 24 images at 2 minutes for a total of 2.8 hours, all images taken at ISO 800. 33 flat frames, and 44 dark frames. Stacked in deep sky stacker and post processing in photoshop. I did the two exposures as separate stacks and combined them in Photoshop. I was attempting to bring out some detail in the core with the shorter exposures while trying to get the dimmer outer stars of the cluster using the longer exposures. Didn’t quite work the way as planned, but I’m still pleased with the final restuls.

Omni XLT 150
CG-5 Advanced Series Go-To
PHD autoguiding
Orion Starshoot autoguider
Modified Canon 350D

M13 – The Great Globular Cluster in Hercules

M13 discovered by Edmond Halley in 1714 and then added to Charles Messier’s catalog on June 1, 1764, is a bright globular cluster in the constellation Hercules. This globular cluster is one of the largest visible in the northern hemisphere and on a clear dark night without a moon to interfere it is visible to the unaided eye. M13 is 25,100 light years away with an angular diameter of 20′, or 145 light years. The cluster contains hundreds of thousands of stars, and towards it’s dense core the stars are more about 500 times more concentrated than in the solar neighborhood. The age of the cluster is estimated to be around 14 billion years which was the revised estimate in 1962. There is a peculiar young blue star located within M13 named, Barnard No. 29.

'X' marks the location of M13

‘X’ marks the location of M13

I imaged and viewed this while there was an nearly full moon present and through the telescope it still stood out visually, although it seemed to wash out everything but the core for visual observing, and made resolving individual stars more difficult. Despite having a nearly full moon I was still able to get some pretty good images showing off this large northern hemisphere globular cluster.

M13 04-28-13

This image is 45 images at 1 minute a piece at ISO 800 with 34 dark frames. Stacked in Deep Sky Stacker, and post processing done in Photoshop.

I get all my Messier list Deep Sky object information from The Messier Catalog.

Omni XLT 150 with CG-4 mount
Modded Canon 350D
T-ring and adapter
Polar Scope for alignment

M10 – A Globular Cluster

In the constellation of Ophiuchus there lies a few beautiful globular clusters. M10 is 14,300 light-years away with it’s bright core spanning 35 light-years across. Discovered and added to Messier’s catalogue on May 29, 1764 as number 10 in his list of objects that could be confused with comets, and was described as a nebula without stars. This cluster was thought to be a nebula until William Herschel was able to resolve some stars within the cluster which he described as a “beautiful cluster of extremely compressed stars”.

‘X’ Marks the spot of M10

My Observation: I’ll start off this section by saying that Globular clusters are one of my favorite objects. I look forward to summer because these seem to be all over the place in the night sky. This cluster is a bit on the dim side, and makes it hard to resolve many stars. Along the outside of the cluster, away from the bright core, I could make out a few stars, but they became almost like a nebula towards the center. I can see how Messier and a few others after him could have thought this was a nebula with their smaller telescopes, but it’s round shape, and stars easily allow you to see that this is indeed a globular cluster.

M10 – A Globular Cluster. 6-16-12

10 images at 1 minute a piece and 20 dark frames stacked in Deep Sky Stacker and post processing done in Photoshop. Omni XLT 150 prime focus Canon 350D.

M13 another Globular Cluster With Sketch

Messier 13 within the constellation of Hercules is a densely packed cluster of 300,000 stars, a diameter of 145 light-years, at a distance of 25,100 light-years away from Earth. The stars within this cluster, like all globular clusters, are old stars tightly bound by gravity giving them their spherical shapes. M13 can be found south of the 3.5 magnitude star Eta Herculis.
‘X’ Marks the spot of M13
I have posted about M13 in the past, but this is my first time viewing it through the 6” telescope. I could make out some stars around the outer edge of the globular, but was still not able to resolve any towards the denser central core of it. I really can’t wait to make some comparisons from darker skies this summer, I have a feeling I will be seeing more detail in objects that are washed out by the city lights of Plattsburgh. This time I got a picture, and I did a sketch of M13; should be a good comparison of what you can see visually, and what a camera can gather with multiple exposures stacked.
M13, click to enlarge
M13 Sketch through 12.5mm eyepiece, magnification 60x. Click to enlarge.
M13 is 11 images at 30 seconds stacked, 8 dark frames, and 15 bias frames. Taken early morning of April 14, 2012, stacked in Deep Sky Stacker and post processed in Gimp.
Sketch was on a white sketch pad with 2H pencil, 557-6B ex. soft charcoal pencil, and a smudge tool. Image inverted and stars touched up in Gimp.

M53 a Globular Cluster


Messier object number 53, a Globular Cluster in the constellation Coma Berneices about 1 degree away from the 4th magnitude star 42 Alpha Comae Berenices. M53 is about 60,000 light-years away from the Galactic center and almost the same distance from our solar system. Discovered first by Johann Elert Bode on February 3, 1775, it was then independently discovered at cataloged by Charles Messier on February 26, 1777.
‘X’ marks the spot of M53.
Through the telescope in my back yard M53 is faint and small with a dense inner core and rapidly fading to the outside edges. A slight oval shape to the central core. Could not resolve any actual stars within the cluster visually, but more were visible in photographs.
M53 – Click to enlarge.
This image of M53 is a stack of 14 images at 30 seconds a piece. Also used 8 dark frames and 15 bias frames. Images stacked in Deep Sky Stacker and edited in Gimp. Taken late night to early morning of April 13-14, 2012.