Gobs of Globulars

by Tom Campbell


May 30, 2003

ObserverTom Campbell
LocationIola, Kansas (Long: 95°24'W Lat: 37°55'N)
EquipmentDiscovery DHQ 8" dobsonian, Simmons 10x50 Binoculars
Eyepieces1.25" Plössls - 25mm (49x), 15mm (81x), 10mm (122x), 6mm (203x), 4mm (305x)
Time9:30pm - 12:30am CDT (02:30-05:30 UT)
TransparencyClear (8/10)
SeeingStable (8/10)
WeatherTemperatures in the 60s. There was little or no breeze.

Observing Summary
HERCULESM13, M92, NGC-6229
OPHIUCHUSIC-4665, M10, M12

Tonight looked great. I could hardly believe that the skies were clear on a New Moon weekend. I was soon to find out that this would change. Right at about 10:00, just as twilight was ending and it was getting truly dark, a flash of light caught my eye as I was looking through the telescope. Lightning? I glanced up. Much to my surprise, a large search beacon was waving back and forth across the sky. It originated west of me, and stretched nearly to the treeline in the east. Almost no matter where my telescope was pointed, every few seconds, the view through my eyepiece would light up. I hoped I could ignore it, and log a few more Herschels. It was such a nice night outside.

Meteor 1-31Rocket Body9:42pm CDT

My observing session tonight began with a satellite pass that I just happened to catch as it cleared the trees in the southeast. It appeared bright yellow-white, and was moving very slowly to the north. It passed through Bootes, and then on between Draco and Ursa Minor. It was moving slow enough that I could hand-track it with my dob at low power (49x). At this magnification, I saw an elongated light (or perhaps two lights, one right in front of the other). I later looked on the Heavens Above website to determine that instead of a satellite, this was actually an old rocket body from a launch in 1981.

NGC 6229HerculesGlobular Cluster10:25pm CDT
RA: 16h 46m 59sDec: +47° 32'Mag: 9.4

This globular cluster was best viewed at 305x. At this magnification, with averted vision, the core appeared stellar, and a few of the outer stars would wink in and out of view. The middle was fairly bright, but not really resolvable. It formed a triangle with two bright field stars, making it easier to focus.

NGC 4147Coma BerenicesGlobular Cluster10:40pm CDT
RA: 12h 10m 06sDec: +18° 32'Mag: 10.4

This was a fairly faint globular, with the best view being at 203x. It appeared fairly large, and the core was nearly stellar with averted vision. No individual stars could be detected, but it did have a mottled appearance.

After this point, I had given up on trying to find faint Herschels. As the sky grew darker, the search beacon became brighter and more distracting. The night was too nice to let go to waste, however. I grabbed my binoculars and decided to do some Messier hunting. With the binocular's bright field and ability to be pointed close to the horizon, the searchlight wouldn't be nearly as much of a hindrance.

M 3Canes VenaticiGlobular Cluster11:05pm CDT
NGC 5272RA: 13h 42m 11sDec: +28° 22'Mag: 6.3

In binoculars, this globular appeared as a fuzzy patch with a stellar core. It formed a triangle with two bright stars that are about the same brightness of M3's core.

M 53Coma BerenicesGlobular Cluster11:10pm CDT
NGC 5024RA: 13h 12m 55sDec: +18° 10'Mag: 7.7

This is really faint and easy to miss in binoculars. With averted vision, however, it was more apparent, having a bright not-quite-stellar core.

M 4ScorpiusGlobular Cluster11:15pm CDT
NGC 6121RA: 16h 23m 33sDec: -26° 31'Mag: 5.4

This cluster was really faint, and easy to miss in binoculars if you don't know where to look. With averted vision, it appeared large, and of a fairly uniform brightness. The globular was slightly oval in shape.

M 5SerpensGlobular Cluster11:20pm CDT
NGC 5904RA: 15h 18m 34sDec: +02° 05'Mag: 5.7

This globular was bright and large. It is located next to another bright star, and is pretty easy to find in binoculars. The core was brighter than the outer edges, but not quite stellar. Even with a quick sweep of the area, the fuzzy patch of light was obvious.

IC 4665OphiuchusOpen Cluster11:30pm CDT
CR 349RA: 17h 46m 12sDec: +05° 43'Mag: 4.2

This open cluster was wide, and 12-15 individual stars were easily visible. The stars were arranged in a roundish but irregular pattern, and were of varying brightness. This made for a nice cluster to view in binoculars. The bright star Beta Ophiuchi was in the same field, and was somewhat distracting.

M 10OphiuchusGlobular Cluster11:35pm CDT
NGC 6254RA: 16h 57m 09sDec: -04° 06'Mag: 6.6

This was a faint, but large globular cluster, and fairly easy to detect in binoculars. The middle was slightly brighter than the edges.

M 12OphiuchusGlobular Cluster11:35pm CDT
NGC 6218RA: 16h 47m 15sDec: -01° 57'Mag: 6.1

This cluster was slightly smaller than M10 and a little dimmer.

M 13HerculesGlobular Cluster11:35pm CDT
NGC 6205RA: 16h 41m 42sDec: +36° 28'Mag: 5.8

This globular is large and bright, easily seen in binoculars. The core was much brighter than the outer edge, and appeared stellar with averted vision.

M 92HerculesGlobular Cluster11:40pm CDT
NGC 6341RA: 17h 17m 07sDec: +43° 08'Mag: 6.5

This cluster was as bright as M13, but was smaller. It had a stellar core, and was definitely fuzzy compared to nearby stars. However, with quick scans, it could have been easily mistaken for just another star.

M 7 (Ptolemy's Cluster)ScorpiusOpen Cluster12:25am CDT
NGC 6475RA: 17h 53m 54sDec: -34° 47'Mag: 3.3

Through binoculars, this was a nice wide cluster, with perhaps two dozen stars visible. It was fairly compact, and most of the stars were of similar brightness. The center seemed to be the densest.

M 6 (Butterfly Cluster)ScorpiusOpen Cluster12:25pm CDT
NGC 6405RA: 17h 40m 25sDec: -32° 14'Mag: 4.2

Through binoculars, this cluster was in the same field of view as M7. I could make out maybe 4-5 stars interspersed between a fuzzy background patch of light. It was about 2/3 the size of M7.

Even after being outside for over three hours, there wasn't a trace of dew on any of my equipment. If it hadn't been for the annoying searchlight, it could have been almost perfect. I later found out that the searchlight was part of a McDonalds promotion. I wasn't a big fan of McDonalds before, and now even less. Thankfully, they said that the searchlights would only be used for two nights. Too bad it was during new moon.