August 21, 2015

Messier 11 Visual Observation

This was almost after 2 years that I was observing this beautiful cluster located in Scutum. M11, The Wild Duck Cluster is one of the most densely packed open clusters. In binoculars it appears as a fuzzy patch, mostly like a Globular Cluster. In telescopes with magnification more than 50x it starts to resolve into stars.

I made my observation on the night of 17th August 2015. The sky was very transparent and I could barely see the Sagittarius Milky Way which is almost impossible to glimpse from my city! The sky was very clear after a rainfall and I decided to observe few deep sky objects using my 10-inch telescope. I rarely do visual observations since I have learned astrophotography. After my purchase of the 10-inch telescope I have spent most of my time in comet hunting than making careful observations of the deep sky objects. 

Messier 11 taken during May 2013 Star Pary

After setting up my telescope I first pointed it to M11. At 48x magnification, the cluster looks beautiful with its surrounding star field. A bright pair of 6th and 8th magnitude stars appears on the edge of the field of view. The central red star in the cluster stands out easily at this magnification but the other star are hardly resolvable. At 120x I could see hundreds of pin point stars resolved. The view was so nice that I could only say 'WOW' seeing this celestial beauty. The brighter members of the cluster form a V-shaped triangle that could be said to resemble a flock of ducks when observed. 

M11 is estimated to be 220 million years of age and is nearly 6200 light years from earth.

-Rahul Zota

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