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.

M16 – The Eagle Nebula

An open cluster of stars in the constellation of Serpens, although it’s close to Scutum, with a diffuse emissions nebula which is another H II region. This nebula, in some images, has an eagle shape visible within it, and is also the home of the Pillars of Creation image from the Hubble Space Telescope. The nebula is a star forming region in the thick clouds of gas and dust which stand out in the pillars. It’s distance is around 6500 light-years away, and the towers of gas coming off the nebula are approximately 9.5 light-years high.

Location of M16 - The Eagle Nebula

‘X’ marks the spot of M16

My Observation: This nebula is extremely faint, and I was only able to spot a hint of nebulosity through the eyepiece after gazing at it for a few minutes. Averted vision was definitely needed in order to spot this nebula. Luckily I had looked up and seen the Eagle Nebula enough to know what to look for as far as the open cluster within it which I could see no problem through the eyepiece. I also used M17 as a guide as M16 is a little over 2° northeast of it.

The Eagle Nebula, Messier 16

M16 – The Eagle Nebula. June 14, 2012

M16 – Eagle Nebula – This is a re-edit of the same original images.

This image is 41 images at 30 seconds a piece and 41 dark frames, stacked in Deep Sky Stacker and post processed in Photoshop. Image taken on June 14, 2012

M11 – Wild Duck Cluster

Messier 11 is an open cluster of stars in the constellation Scutum above the southern horizon during the springs and summer months. Originally discovered by Gottfried Kirch in 1681, Charles Messier added it to his catalogue in 1764. The name “Wild Duck Cluster” comes from it’s fan of brighter stars that kind of resemble a flock of ducks flying in a ‘V’ shape.

This is one of densest open clusters in our skies with roughly 2900 stars within the cluster in a very small compact area. Most open clusters are spread out more within a large field of view, but this one is easily confused with globular clusters. It’s distance from us is roughly 6100 light-years away.

‘X’ Marks the spot of M11 – The Wild Duck Cluster

My Observation: Once I got this open cluster in my view, if I didn’t know better, I would have claimed it was a globular cluster of stars. The best way to describe how it looks through my telescope is to compare it to laying a piece of paper on some cement and rubbing charcoal on the paper. In my mind it has the same kind of texture to it as the charcoal rubbing would. Although it looks like a globular cluster once you look at it for a little bit you start to notice you can resolve stars, even within the center where it’s more dense. That is something quite difficult to do with any other globular cluster I have seen.

Trying to image this cluster was a bit of a struggle as I was having quite the focusing issues, and then when I finally got the focus right, I had knocked the mount out of alignment, and had to go through the whole process of realigning and focusing. Thankfully we use digital photography or I would have gone through about 3 rolls of film before finally getting results that I could use.

M11 - The Wild Duck Cluster

M11 – The Wild Duck Cluster

This image of M11 is 18 images at 30 seconds a piece on ISO 800, and 20 dark images. Stacked in Deep Sky Stacker and edited in Gimp.

M8 – The Lagoon Nebula

This beautiful interstellar cloud is towards the southern horizon during spring/summer months in the constellation Sagittarius. M8 is an emission nebula around 4,000-6,000 light-years away from Earth, and is roughly 110 by 50 light-years in diameter. It is classified as an H II region which is a low-density cloudy of ionized gas meaning that star formation has recently, in astronomical terms, taken place.

'X' Marks the spot of M8 - The Lagoon Nebula

‘X’ Marks the spot of M8 – The Lagoon Nebula

Remember that through a telescope a nebula isn’t going to be rich with color like you see in photos from other astronomers or from the Hubble Space Telescope. Our eyes are not sensitive enough to light to see the colors in low light conditions, so they appear gray in color when viewed through a telescope or binoculars.

My Observation: In the telescope with my light polluted skies, and with how low M8 sits on the southern horizon it’s hard to make out much nebulosity. I can pick out a small section that is a little gray where the nebula is located, but mainly I can see the central cluster of stars. These stars through the eyepiece almost form a bit of a smiley face using just the brightest stars within the cluster. In the image below the bright spot of the nebula towards the top is about all I can see through my telescope, which may be a result of my light polluted skies. I really need to get out to darker locations now that summer weather is finally happening here in the Adirondacks.

M8 - Lagoon Nebula

M8 – Lagoon Nebula

This image was taken on June 10, 2012 and is 36 images stacked at 30 seconds a piece giving me a total of 18 minutes of light collection along with 20 dark images. Using my Omni XLT 150 and Canon 350D prime focus. Stacked in Deep Sky Stacker and edited in Gimp. I also did a layer mask to remove some of the overexposed areas of the bight patches of nebula illuminated by the bright stars near the top.

M57 – The Ring Nebula

Found in the constellation of Lyra – The Harp, is the planetary nebula, M57. Although called a planetary nebula, it is not caused by a planet, but a star. This particular one was caused by a red giant star which released a shell of ionized gas expanding into the interstellar medium. The Ring Nebula has a magnitude of 8.8 and an angular size of 1.5z1 arcminute, too small to see with binoculars, but visible with a small telescope of 4 inches.
First discovered by French astronomer Antoine Darquier de Pellepoix in January of 1779; it was then independently discovered by Charles Messier a month later. Both Charles Messier and William Herschel believed M57 to be comprised of multiple faint stars, but were unresolvable in their small telescopes.
‘X’ Marks the spot for M57.
My Observation: With the 25mm at a magnification of 30x this small ring shaped object looks to be a bright gray color, but very small in size. Easily overlooked as just another star, but once you focus on it – especially with averted vision – you can make out that it is a ring shaped object. Remind me a lot of a Cheerio, or a Donut. Stepping up the magnification to the 12.5mm giving me a magnification of 60x, M57 doesn’t lose any brightness, but gains in size. It’s shape, and the fact that it’s not another star in the eyepiece, is much more visible. Looking like a smoke ring from a cigar smoker, it’s just about perfectly round.
M57 – The Ring Nebula. 5-12-12. Click to Enlarge.
This is 18 images at 30 seconds a piece, ISO1600 stacked with 15 darks and 20 bias frames. I could have probably gotten away with doing it at ISO800, and still maintaining the colors I got. Stacked in Deep Sky Stacker and post processing in Gimp.