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Messier Catalog: M71 - M80

M71 - globular star cluster in SagittaM71 Globular Cluster in Sagitta
Common Names: None
NGC Number: 6838
Visual Magnitude: 8.2
ra: 19h 53.8m
dec: +18° 47'
Located in the constellation of Sagitta is a globular cluster known as M71. This is an extremely loose cluster, and for some time there was doubt as to whether this was a globular cluster at all. Some astronomers believed it to be a condensed open cluster. This globular is located about 11,700 light-years from Earth and has a diameter of only 25 light-years. This makes it one of the smallest known globular clusters. Recent findings suggest that the size may actually be 90 light-years, but it is uncertain at this point how many of the surrounding stars are actually part of the cluster. At magnitude 8.2 it can be seen through binoculars on a good night. Image credit: REU program/NOAO/AURA/NSF
M72 - globular star cluster in AquariusM72 Globular Cluster in Aquarius
Common Names: None
NGC Number: 6981
Visual Magnitude: 9.3
ra: 20h 53.5m
dec: -12° 32'
In the constellation Aquarius lies a globular cluster known as M72. This object is one of the more remote globular clusters in the Messier catalog. It has a diameter of about 90 light-years, and is located over 53,000 light-years from Earth. Although its apparent magnitude is only 9.3, this cluster's extreme distance means that it is one of the brightest globulars yet discovered. Visually, it is a somewhat loose cluster. M72 is approaching us at over 250 km/sec. This object may be difficult to locate with binoculars but makes an easy target with a telescope. Image credit: REU program/NOAO/AURA/NSF
M73 - asterism in AquariusM73 Asterism in Aquarius
Common Names: None
NGC Number: 6994
Visual Magnitude: 2.8
ra: 20h 58.9m
dec: -12° 38'
Another interesting object to be found in Aquarius is M73. This object is unlike most of Messier's other discoveries. M73 is a small cluster of four stars. It is officially classified as an asterism. An asterism is a star pattern, and is different from a constellation. For example, the big dipper is an asterism within the constellation of Ursa Major. M73 may appear as a nebula at first glance with small instruments. Some astronomers believe this object to be a true star cluster, but there is little evidence at this time to support that claim. M73 is easily visible in binoculars, but it takes a telescope to resolve the individual stars in the formation. Image credit: REU program/NOAO/AURA/NSF
M74 - spiral galaxy in PiscesM74 Galaxy in Pisces
Common Names: None
NGC Number: 628
Visual Magnitude: 9.4
ra: 1h 36.7m
dec: +15° 47'
In the constellation of Pisces can be found a fine example of a face-on spiral galaxy. This is M74. It is a beautiful spiral around 95,000 light-years in diameter. It is located about 35 million light-years from Earth. It is moving away from us at nearly 800 km/sec. Color photographs of this galaxy reveal that its spiral arms are littered with clusters of young, blue stars. It is believed to be very similar in size and shape to our own Milky Way galaxy. With a magnitude of 9.4, it may be a challenging object to locate in binoculars. Larger telescopes will reveal the best amount of detail.
Image credit: Todd Boroson/NOAO/AURA/NSF
M75 - globular star cluster in SagittariusM75 Globular Cluster in Sagittarius
Common Names: None
NGC Number: 6864
Visual Magnitude: 8.5
ra: 20h 06.1m
dec: -21° 55'
The galactic hunting grounds of Sagittarius is the home of yet another globular cluster known as M75. At a distance of 60,000 light-years, it is one of the most remote globular clusters in the Messier catalog. It is believed to be around 100 light-years in diameter. It is a very compact and concentrated cluster. Because of its small size, larger telescopes are required to resolve it into individual stars. A pair of binoculars on a good night should be able to find it as a small, fuzzy blob.
Image credit: NOAO/AURA/NSF
M76 - planetary nebula in PerseusM76 Planetary Nebula in Perseus
Common Names: Little Dumbbell / Butterfly Nebula
NGC Number: 650
Visual Magnitude: 10.1
ra: 1h 42.4m
dec: +51° 34'
Located in the constellation of Perseus is a faint planetary nebula known as M76. This nebula is also known as the Little Dumbbell Nebula. Other names that have been given to this object include Cork Nebula, Butterfly Nebula, and Barbell Nebula. At magnitude 10.1 it is one of the fainter of the Messier objects. The appearance of this nebula is very similar to that of M27, the Dumbbell Nebula. As with most planetary nebulae, its distance it not very well known. Best estimates put it at between 1,700 and 15,000 light-years from Earth. It takes a good telescope to be able to see any amount of detail on this object. Image credit: N.A.Sharp, NOAO/AURA/NSF
M77 - spiral galaxy in CetusM77 Galaxy in Cetus
Common Names: None
NGC Number: 1068
Visual Magnitude: 8.9
ra: 2h 42.7m
dec: -0° 01'
The constellation Cetus is the location of a beautiful spiral galaxy known as M77. This is one of the largest galaxies in the Messier catalog. The brightest parts of this galaxy measure about 120,000 light-years in diameter, but its fainter extensions bring it out to a total of 170,000 light-years. This galaxy is believed to be located around 60 million light-years from Earth and is receding from us at a whopping 1100 km/sec. Visually, it appears as a large spiral with broad structured arms. At a magnitude of 8.9, it can easily be located with a pair of binoculars on a good night. Large telescopes will reveal some of the more intricate details in this galaxy. Image credit: NOAO/AURA/NSF
M78 - diffuse nebula in OrionM78 Diffuse Nebula in Orion
Common Names: None
NGC Number: 2068
Visual Magnitude: 8.3
ra: 5h 46.7m
dec: +0° 03'
In the constellation of Orion can be found the brightest diffuse reflection nebula in the sky. This is M78. It is a member of the Orion complex, which is a large cloud of dust ad gas near the Orion Nebula, M42. It is the brightest part of a large dust cloud that includes several other small nebulae. This bright nebula is about 1,600 light-years from Earth and measures nearly 4 light-years in diameter. It shines with the reflected light of several bright blue stars. Visually, this nebula resembles a faint comet. It can easily be seen with just about any size telescope. Image credit: T. A. Rector/University of Alaska Anchorage, H. Schweiker/WIYN and NOAO/AURA/NSF
M79 - globular star cluster in LepusM79 Globular Cluster in Lepus
Common Names: None
NGC Number: 1904
Visual Magnitude: 7.7
ra: 5h 24.5m
dec: -24° 33'
The constellation Lepus is the site of a beautiful globular cluster known as M79. This cluster is unusual because of its location in the sky. Most globular clusters are grouped near the center of our galaxy. This one is much closer to us. It is only 40,000 light-years from Earth but 60,000 light-years from the galactic center. It is believed to have a diameter of around 100 light-years. It has a slightly elliptical shape and is receding from us at about 200km/sec. At magnitude 7.7, it is a bright object and should be relatively easy to spot in binoculars. A telescope is required to resolve the individual stars in the cluster. Image credit: NOAO/AURA/NSF
M80 - globular star cluster in ScorpiusM80 Globular Cluster in Scorpius
Common Names: None
NGC Number: 6093
Visual Magnitude: 7.3
ra: 16h 17m
dec: -22° 59'
Located in the constellation Scorpius is an 8th magnitude globular cluster called M80. This cluster has a diameter of around 90 light-years and is located roughly 36,000 light-years from the Earth. This cluster was the site of a nova in 1860, which completely changed its appearance for several days. A second nova occurred in 1938, but was only observed photographically. Visually, this globular cluster resembles a comet. A large telescope is required to reveal the cluster's individual stars. Image credit: The Hubble Heritage Team (AURA/ STScI/ NASA)

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