M13 – The Hercules Cluster

image credit: NASA

This is a beast of a DSO, at least I think so. Before I give an overview of this object (these objects), spare a thought to our one and only star, The Sun, our lonely parent star carrying out its duty in the great cosmos, giving life to everything we know of on Earth, sustaining all of the of the planets and holding millions of other solar system objects such as dwarf planets, asteroids and comets rotating in an apparently infinite dance. Now, imagine The Hercules Cluster It contains approx. 300,000 stars (M13), and has a spherical diameter of 145 light years. To put this into some kind of imaginable perspective, it will take the Voyager spacecraft approximately 70,000 years to to reach the closest known star to us which is Proxima B, about 4.42 light years away.  The Hercules Cluster was first discovered by Edmond Halley in 1714 ( as far as we know) , (yes that’s the guy, Halley’s Comet) and was catalogued by Charles Messier in 1764 and given the designation M 13 (Messier 13).   It’s currently just over 22000 light years from Earth. It’s a fantastic deep sky object to view in summer months and beyond. Imagine what it must be like standing on a planet orbiting a star in this cluster, the night sky must be amazing. Check out below where I’ve post a screen shot showing the location of M13 around this time of year ( Midnight, May 25th), current location is the south coast of Ireland.

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