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Hercules's third globular cluster


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Posted (edited)

I've had a nice relaxed evening observing under generally good skies this evening using my 100mm refractor.

A feature tonight were the starlink satellites of which there seemed to be many, streaming across the sky. One bunch, that were closely spaced, had me thinking that some piece of space junk was re-entering and breaking up for a moment - until I looked through my scope's finder and saw the individual points of light following each other.

Anyway, back to the starry skies, Hercules was well presented so naturally I took a look at the two magnificent globular clusters Messier 13 and Messier 92. Both lovely and showing some nice surface star resolution at around 125x magnification.

A glance at Stellarium reminded me that there is another globular cluster in Hercules and one that I can't recall observing before, NGC 6229. So that became my next target.

It is not too difficult to find and forms a neat triangle in the low power eyepiece field with a couple of magnitude 8 stars. The cluster is magnitude 9.8 so quite a bit fainter than the better known M13 and M92 but NGC 6229 is further away from us, a lot further away, and is termed an Outer Halo Cluster. It's distance is nearly 100,000 light years compared with 25,000 and 26,000 for Messiers 13 and 92.

Despite being fainter, NGC 6229 stood out reasonably clearly, once the scope was pointed at the right spot, as a concentrated misty ball of light at 37.5x magnification and increasing the magnification increased the contrast against the background sky but did not show any obvious resolution into stars with the 100mm aperture scope. Next time that I have my 12 inch dobsonian out I will re-visit this ball of stars and see if that can resolve any of them.

Very nice to observe this trio of globular clusters. Some of the most ancient, exotic and fascinating objects we amateurs observe IMHO.

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Edited by John
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6 hours ago, John said:

One bunch, that were closely spaced, had me thinking that some piece of space junk was re-entering and breaking up for a moment

Great report, John. I had the same experience with Starlink last year. I actually went on the BBC news site to check that the ISS was ok!

I’ll give NGC 6229 a look next time I’m out :) 

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Nice one John. I remember picking it up some years back (consulting my log, it was August 22, 2012), and being pleased at  picking up this distant globular (quite easy with the C8), and adding yet another Herschel-400 object to the bag. The three planetaries on that list are also well worth a visit 

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Somehow I have contrived to miss this one, but the images online appear to show a very pretty cluster so I shall certainly attempt to find it next time the opportunity presents itself.

Thanks to John for drawing it to my attention.

James

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I've just been observing NGC 6229 again, this time with my ED120 refractor. Quite nice although still not resolvable even at higher powers. I also picked up the small planetary nebula NGC 6210 in Hercules - a pale blue irregularly shaped spot of light easily overlooked as a star at low powers.

Lots of nice things in Hercules :smiley:

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Posted (edited)

Just added the tiny planetary nebula IC 4593 to the Hercules haul tonight. Sometimes known as the "White Eyed Pea Nebula", this one is magnitude 10.5 I think.

Pleased to add these two planetary nebulae to the globular clusters, especially IC 4593 - it's just so small !

 

Edited by John
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Thanks for posting about this @John, it's a new one for me. I had a little session last night, in a 14" dob it was relatively easy to find and obvious as a glob even at quite low mag. With my baader zoom it was a bit of a smudge at 8mm, but in my binoviewers (which give me x264) I was able to resolve faintly around the edges, even though seeing wasn't especially brilliant last night. Small, but neat and pretty! 😁

I'm now wishing I'd posted my thanks last night because I would have seen your other observations and could have had a go at then as well. Ah well, save something for next time...

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On 18/05/2021 at 00:54, John said:

the starlink satellites of which there seemed to be many, streaming across the sky. One bunch, that were closely spaced, had me thinking that some piece of space junk was re-entering and breaking

I too was caught out by this apparition, briefly thought it was a Zeppelin going in to land at nearby EMA!

  IMHO Starlink is already space junk and will be a major nuisance in years to come. Once China and Russia follow Musk who is going to police our cluttered orbits? (Apologies in advance to any who take a different view)

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