By: "Tony Cecce, Corning, NY"

Twelve Month Tour of the Messier Catalog
July Messier Objects

This will be a light month as we wait for the summer Milkyway to rise into better view later this summer. Our quarry will consist of six globular clusters and one very bright galaxy. All of these objects are possible with binoculars, most are down right easy even with small binoculars.

[M?? Image] M3 - This globular cluster in Canes Venatici is one of the brightest objects in the sky. In binoculars this object is definately not star like, but more of a bright, small snowball easy to see. Small telescopes will begin to resolve M3 into individual stars. The hardest part of this object is locating it in a portion of sky that contains few bright landmarks.

[M?? Image] M53 - Another globular cluster in Canes Venatici. While not quite as big or bright as M3 it is still an obvious binocular object. Resolvable in small telescopes, it as easy object to find sharing the same low power telescope field as fifth magnitude Alpha Coma Berenices.

[M?? Image] M5 - A big, bright globular cluster located in Serpens Caput. M5 is as nice as M3 but lies near a fifth magnitude naked eye star (5 Serpentis) making it an easy object to find.

[M?? Image] M68 - An eighth magnitude globular cluster in Hydra, M68 is a difficult binocular object for Northern observers. It appears as a faint fuzz spot in binoculars, you may need to use averted vision or large binoculars to find this one. Appearing as a round fuzzy patch in a 8" telescope, you will need a much larger aperature to really resolve it.

[M?? Image] M83 - A face on spiral in Hydra. M83 is fairly easy in binoculars as a faint, fuzzy patch of light. In a telescope look for a large patch of light with a bright center.

[M?? Image] M4 - A big bright globular in Scorpius, easily located near Antares. This is an easy binocular object appearing as a round snowball. Partially resolvable in a telescope, the trade mark of this globular is a line of bright stars crossing the center.

[M?? Image] M80 - This is the smallest and faintest globular cluster this month. Located in Scopius, M80 is a very tough binocular object appearing as a faint star with slight fuzziness around the edges. This is confirmed with a telescope, M80 has a bright central condensation in the middle of faint fuzz. It is one of the Messier objects that even through a medium telescope still looks like a comet.

Last Month - M58, M59, M60, M84, M86, M87, M88, M89, M90, M91, M98,
                M99, M100
Next Month - M6, M7, M8, M9, M10, M12, M19, M20, M21, M23, M62, M107
                                                A.J. Cecce Revision 6/95