Globular clusters are huge, spherical balls of stars that orbit the core of our galaxy. Containing thousands of stars, they often appear as small, comet-like balls of light against the background stars.
When Charles Messier, the great French comet hunter, compiled his catalog of deep sky objects in the 18th century, he included two globular clusters from Scorpius. The first, M4, is the bigger, brighter and more popular of the two. The other, M80, is often overlooked in favor of its splashier cousin.
M80 is at its best visibility for the year tonight and is visible from sunrise to sunset. To find it, look midway between Antares, the red eye of the scorpion, and Acrab, which marks a claw. Scanning the area with binoculars under clear, dark skies should reveal the cluster.
(Click on an image to enlarge.)
06:41 UT – Mars appears 6° north of Aldebaran. (Mars: 100% illuminated, magnitude 1.5, diameter 3.7”. Taurus, not visible.)
15:05 UT – Mercury appears 1.6° south of Mars. (Mercury: 1% illuminated, magnitude 4.9, diameter 12.0”. Mars: 100% illuminated, magnitude 1.5, diameter 3.7”. Taurus, not visible.)
The globular cluster M80 culminates at midnight tonight. (Magnitude 7.9. Scorpius, all night. See images above.)
Events in bold involve objects and/or events that are visible with the naked eye.
All times are in Universal Time (UTC). To convert the time to your timezone, click here.
2015: An Astronomical Year
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