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.

M3 – Globular Cluster


Messier 3 is a globular cluster in the constellation Canes Venatici at a distance of 33,900 light-years away from Earth with a magnitude of 6.2. It is one of the largest and brightest globular clusters visible in the northern hemisphere, and consists of around 500,000 stars. Globular clusters are groups of old stars with this cluster being estimated at 8 billion years old. Within this cluster are a known 274 variable stars – the most found within any globular cluster.
‘X’ marks the location of M3.
I happened to be out viewing this cluster as the moon was already beyond 50% so it was washing out a lot of the stars, galaxies, and nebula in the sky. I decided on M3 as it is one of the brightest globulars, and it was one of the few that was above my tree line from the backyard. Considering the moon brightness paired with light pollution I was very impressed with the view of it through the telescope, and of course couldn’t resist getting a few images of it to stack and show off.
Given it’s location along the border of 3 constellations; Canes Venatici, Bootes, and Coma Berenices it wasn’t the easiest to find due to it’s location in the sky and it’s lack of many stars visible to guide from. This was the first time I actually used my RA and DEC dials on my EQ mount. Using the star Arcturus as my setting star I tried it a few times with success on each attempt making M3 land within the view each time.
M3 Globular Cluster in Canes Venatici. April 2, 2012. Also above the cluster is Galaxy NGC 5263 at magnitude 14.
This consists of 14 images at 30 seconds a piece, 10 dark frames and 20 bias frames taken on April 2, 2012. Since the temperature at night has been the same during the last few sessions I’m able to reuse the same darks, and bias frames each time. I planned on getting a few more dark frames while I was out, but I had some difficulties with my polar alignment and tracking that I was getting a lot of star trails. By the time I finally got everything the way I needed it to be I was almost out of battery on my camera.

August 26, 2011 Viewing Session – M71

Tonight I had planned to go out and view M71, a globular cluster in the constellation Sagitta. Sagitta was at zenith (directly overhead) when I went out to view. The constellation of Sagitta is latin for “arrow”, and is right near the constellations Vulpecula, Cygnus and Lyra. What sparked my interest in viewing M71 tonight was that the Comet 2009 P1 Garradd was very close to the globular cluster. I’ll be honest, I’ve never viewed a comet before and I’m not sure if any of the stars in my field of view were actually the comet. Not sure if I’d be able to see it in my telescope, and I don’t think I was viewing long enough to notice any movement of a comet through the eyepiece. I couldn’t make out any dust trails or anything behind it either, and I heard that someone the other night was just able to make it out with an 8 inch telescope; I’ve only got a 4.5 inch, so I’m don’t think I’d get a view of it.
I had a little over an hour of clear skies until some clouds finally came in and obstructed my view. At which point I came back inside to allow them some time to clear. Went back out and the clouds were still there so I called it a night, but not before I was able to get 2 nice sketches of M71. Nothing beats going out with a goal and succeeding. M71 is a magnitude 8.3 globular cluster between the stars γSge and δSge (Greek letters are Gamma and Delta respectively) at the coordinates of RA: 19h54m Dec: +18. Below is my sketch of M71 in both my 32mm eyepiece and my 12.5mm eyepiece, followed by the notes I took during and after my viewing.
The thumbnail view is a good representation of this image in the eyepiece.
M71 Sketch, click to enlarge
I viewed and sketched from 22:48-23:35, the skies were partly cloudy with decent transparency in the air. In the 32mm M71 looked like a fuzzy ball. Through my scope it looked a little bit wider than it was tall and had a nice grouping of dimmer stars near the cluster, and a few brighter ones further out. I couldn’t resolve any of the stars within the cluster itself even with a higher magnification I couldn’t resolve the stars. With the 12.5mm I could make out a few more stars around the cluster which I couldn’t see with the 32mm. I also didn’t notice much loss in brightness of M71 with the higher magnification even though higher magnification usually equals a dimmer object.