M3 is a globular star cluster of half a million stars located about 35,000 to 40,000 light years from Earth. M3 is about 220 light-years in diameter, and the stars in this cluster formed about 10 billion years ago. It is one of the three brightest globular clusters in the northern sky. This globular cluster is about 18 arc-minutes in diameter. M3 is one of about 150 globular star clusters that orbit the Milky Way Galaxy. M3 is currently approaching us with a radial velocity of about 90 miles a second.
M3 was discovered by Charles Messier in 1764. It is one of four objects in the constellation Canes Venatici that appeared in Messier's catalog. The other three Messier objects are all galaxies discovered years later: M51 (discovered in 1773), M63 (discovered in 1779), and M94 (discovered in 1781). In addition, M106 in Canes Venatici is also included as a Messier object on modern versions of the Messier list.
This CCD image was taken with a Takahashi FCT-150 refractor using an SBIG STL-11000M CCD from my backyard in Scottsdale, Arizona.
M3 (NGC 5272)
Constellation: Canes Venatici
RA: 13h 42m 11s Dec: +28d 22' 34" (J2000)
January 23, 2011
Image by Sid Leach
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