M11 Open Star Cluster

M11 star cluster

The Wild Duck Star Cluster

M11 ia a bright magnitude 5.8 dense open cluster that beautifully accents the swarms of stars that populate the Milky Way in the constellation Scutum. In this part of the sky, it takes an exceptionally fine galactic star cluster to stand out from the prominent Scutum Star Cloud. M11 is an outstanding open cluster for moderate size telescopes. A 10-inch scope shows hundreds of glittering star points all over a field of view that resembles a carpet of sparkling diamonds.

M11 is about 5,500 light-years away. The cluster is about 500 million years old, and the brightest members are giant stars with luminosities more than 100 times that of our sun. If our sun was at that distance, it would appear as a very dim magnitude 15.9.

M11 was discovered by Gottfried Kirch in 1681 at the Berlin Observatory in Germany. The object was included in a list of nebulous stars by Halley. The Reverend William Derham in England is credited as the first to resolve it into a cluster, and accomplished this feat in 1732. The cluster got its name from Admiral Smyth, who thought the main group of stars formed a V-shape and resembled a flight of wild ducks. The cluster was included in the first list published by Charles Messier.

This is a RGB color composite CCD image of M11 taken from my backyard in Scottsdale, Arizona. An ST-8E CCD was used on a Takahashi FCT-150 refractor at the f7 prime focus, with the CCD binned 2x2.

M11 (NGC 6705)
Constellation: Scutum
RA: 18h 51m 18.6s Dec: -06d 15' 56"
March 20, 2004
Image by Sid Leach
Scottsdale, Arizona

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