The Good Hercules star cluster is 1 of the accurate treasures of the summer season and early autumn sky. It is a dense cluster of stars all crammed with each other in a tight sphere that you will really like to direct your telescope to once more and once more. As with a lot of celestial treasures, you will have to dig for it a bit, but this treasure hunt is definitely worth it. This cluster is 1 of the accurate jewels of the heavens!
The Hercules Cluster, recognized formally as Messier Catalog Object quantity 13, or M-13, is not visible to the naked eye. You must be in a position to hunt it down with a decent pair of binoculars or a little telescope, specifically in the typically darker skies of the suburbs or the countryside. At the finish of evening twilight, M-13 can be discovered on the west side of the faint constellation Hercules. I consider the easiest way to discover it is to face west and appear up for the two brightest stars you can see in the western sky, Vega and Arcturus. Vega will be the larger of the two. Just make confident you do not confuse the super vibrant planet Jupiter in the low southwestern sky for these stars. Draw a line in between Vega and Arcturus. M-13 will be just brief of the halfway point. Scan that location with your binoculars or telescope and see if you can spot what appears like a small fuzz ball.
That small fuzz ball is M-13, the Hercules Cluster. It is a gigantic city of about a million stars, jammed into a sphere significantly less than 150 light years across. Even although 1 light year equals practically six trillion miles, that is nonetheless a little location for that a lot of stars to be crammed into. That is actual celestial congestion! With adequate magnification and light gathering, you may possibly see some person stars at the cluster’s edge.
The Hercules Cluster is a prime instance of a globular star cluster. All about the evening sky, any time of the year, there are hundreds and hundreds of star clusters. Just gradually scan the heavens with any old pair of binoculars and you cannot aid but discover them. Most of these are open star clusters produced up of groups of stars that lately formed out of the similar hydrogen gas cloud. The stars in these open star clusters are typically anyplace from 50 to 500 million years old, which in stellar terms would make them just infant to toddler stars.
Globular clusters like M-13 are unique. They are spherical swarms of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of stars packed in a little location, commonly significantly less than 300 light years in diameter. Globular clusters are produced up of old stars extra than 11 to 12 billion years old. A lot more than 140 globular clusters type a giant halo about our Milky Way Galaxy. In a way, they are element of the outer structure of our property galaxy, or what some astronomers contact satellites of our Milky Way. Simply because of this, globular clusters are a heck of a extended way away. The Hercules Cluster, M-13, is about 25,000 light years away. That is so far away that the light we see from M-13 late this summer season left that cluster in the year 23,000 B.C.!
There’s one more lovely globular cluster not all that far away from M-13 in the constellation Hercules the Hero that is also pretty uncomplicated to discover. It is M-92, which you can see on the diagram is seriously close to M-13. Scan your telescopes or binoculars about eight degrees above M-13 and you must be in a position to spot M-92. Eight degrees is just significantly less than the width of your fist held at arm’s length. M-92 is just about as vibrant as M-13 and a small farther away at a distance of 27,000 light years.
There are a lot of other globular clusters to discover in the evening sky. You can find them with computer software like Stellarium and smartphone apps like Sky Guide.
CELESTIAL HUGGING THIS WEEKEND: This weekend the waxing gibbous moon will be passing by the vibrant planet Saturn just above the constellation Sagittarius. Appear in the early low southwestern sky. You will really like it!
Mike Lynch is an amateur astronomer and specialist broadcast meteorologist for WCCO Radio in Minneapolis/St. Paul. He is also the author of “Stars: a Month by Month Tour of the Constellations,” published by Adventure Publications and obtainable at bookstores and at adventurepublications.net. Mike is also obtainable for private star parties. You can get in touch with him at [email protected]