Ob­serve M13’s ‘pro­peller’

Sky at Night Magazine - - SPRING OBSERVING -

Dif­fi­culty level: Be­gin­ner to In­ter­me­di­ate

The glob­u­lar clus­ter M13 in the con­stel­la­tion of Her­cules is eas­ily the finest ex­am­ple of its kind in the night skies of the north­ern hemi­sphere. In a mod­est tele­scope of around six to eight inches it ap­pears as a ball-shaped, hud­dled mass of count­less tiny points of light.

For our fi­nal pro­ject in this ar­ti­cle we’re go­ing to look for a par­tic­u­lar fea­ture in this beau­ti­ful clus­ter. In M13’s south­east­ern cor­ner the ar­range­ment of stars along our line of sight is such that there is what looks like the (slightly trans­par­ent) sil­hou­ette of a three-bladed ‘pro­peller’ over­laid on the gran­u­lar tex­ture of the clus­ter.

If you strug­gle to see this fea­ture try us­ing averted vi­sion, or ob­serv­ing from a site away from light pol­lu­tion. Or, if it’s a larger in­stru­ment you need, why not visit your lo­cal as­tro­nom­i­cal so­ci­ety on an ob­serv­ing evening when they may have larger scopes on hand to help you catch sight of this in­trigu­ing cos­mic cu­rios­ity.

The ghostly im­age of a three-armed pro­peller emerges from M13

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