The Canadian Astronomer and the Glittering Globular

by Pat Browne

The night of the Stargazers’ Ride,  I was out waiting for a pack of cyclists to ruin my night vision with the headlamps. The ride  captain, Hilderic B. appeared but no-one else showed up. I was intrigued by the fact that it really did clear up, after we were so socked-in for several hours. And there, on the Bennies Corners Road – was Antares, Graffias, ,Yed Prior, Yed Posterior twinkling at me,  just as bright as the fireflies…

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Antares, Graffias (Beta Scorpio), Yed Prior, Yed Posterior

 

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So instead of going out to FLO, I visited my own 16″ scope named Ozzie (named after the country (Australia) – his family had moved there and had to leave him behind).  I decided to visit some of the Sue French samplers due south…

Excerpts taken from  Celestial Sampler,  by Sue French

(Images, courtesy Stellarium)

“Dazzling Doubles, Glittering Globulars (Chapter 2, April-May-June)

“Overlooked Ophiuchus” (Chapter 3, July-August-September)

 Observing Log – 29 June 2013 11pm EDT

Scope: 16″ F5 Dobsonian reflector
Eyepieces – rich field  2″  40mm (50x)
( 100-300x)                  1 1/4″ 24-8mm  zoom

Starting with Antares in Scorpio:

Double Star  – Beta Scorpio Graffias – distinct colour difference see http://bestdoubles.wordpress.com/2010/06/08/beta-scorpii-graffias-a-60mm-jewel/

M4 – At 7000 light years from earth, it is one of the closest globulars – however the stars seem loosely clustered – not a high concentration.

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M80 – ‘wait for a dark night with no moon in the sky and set your scope as far as possible from city lights’ Located halfway between Graffias and Antares ,

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Sue French writes” “M80 is one of the richest and most compact star clusters in all the heavens. But it lies at such an immense distance, four times as far as M4, that a small telescope can’t show its individual stars”

I certainly had no trouble finding it – and the contrast effect was almost comical – contrasted to the big, baggy M4, my first thought on spying M80 was CUTE! It was the firefly-like central core that probably elicited that reaction.

M107 in Ophiuchus – a must do… because it owes its inclusion in the Messier Catalogue to our famous Lady of the Heavens – Helen Sawyer Hogg.

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Sue French (our Celestial Sampler) pays tribute to her efforts:

“M107 is about 21000 light years distant and 80 light years across. It did not actually appear in Charles Messier’s Catalog. WHile compiling a bibliography of individual globular slusters in 1947, Canadian Astronomer Helen Sawyer Hogg found a letter from Pierre Méchain in Johann Bode’s Astronomisches Jahrbuch for 1786. In his letter,  Méchain mentioned four “nebulae” that he’d discovered but had not passed on to Messier in time for inclusion in the catalog. Hogg claimed, logically, that these four objects should be appended to the Messier list with the designations M104 through M107″. To find M107, use ζ Ophiuchus the bright one descending down from the Yed brothers. This globular cluster is just south of two bright stars. M107 and a star trio fit together in a rich field eyepiece. M107 is a beautiful sight in the eyepiece, it has companion foreground stars, and has some brightening toward the center which picks up the visual interest. Quite a few of the cluster stars ‘sparkle intermittently’.

Thanks to Helen Sawyer Hogg, we have this just-right globular to celebrate on or near Canada Day.