M13 is the best globular cluster for northern observers as it is well placed for observation for much of the year. A globular cluster is a huge ball of very old (>10 billion years) stars which orbits slowly in the outer reaches of our galaxy. M13 contains some 300,000 stars, and is perhaps 23,000 light years away. Despite this immense distance, M13 can just be seen with the naked eye, and is a fine binocular object. It resides in the constellation of Hercules. All the constellations have some mythological tales behind them, and Hercules has one of the best, so I'm going to bore you with it here to make up for the fact I haven't actually got a terribly impressive picture of the object in question. ;-).
Hercules was the son of Zeus and Alcmena, who, by chance, happened to be the most wise and beautiful of mortal women. However, as you can imagine, Zeus' wife, Hera, was a little annoyed by this affair and tried all manner of tricks to get her own back. Eventually, when Hercules had grown up, she provoked a madness within him (no comment) during which Hercules killed his children. After realising his error, he visited Delo's oracle to gain comfort. The oracle told him to place himself at Euristeus' disposal. This of course led onto the Labours of Hercules, which we'll skip here! When he was done our hero married Deianira. However, one day the centaur Nessus tried to rape her - but the wily Hercules spotted this and struck him with an arrow dipped in the hydra's poison. As he died, Nessus convinced Deianira that his blood was a love potion and so she saved a bit of it for a rainy day. Deianira then decided Hercules had betrayed her, so she wet a coat with Nessus's blood, hoping to win back H's love. However, when Hercules put the coat on, he began to burn! Sent mad by the pain, he climbed on a handy flaming pyre and killed himself. Zeus was rather pleased to see him turn up at Olympus, and Hera and Hercules became friends, so Zeus gave him a place amongst the stars.
|Location||Buster Hill 21st June 2003|
|Statistics||8 stacked 15s exposures.|
|Equipment used||Helios 8" newtonian reflector Logitech QuickCam Pro 4000 SC Long Exposure Modified (no lens) K3CCDTools, Registax and Photoshop|
Whilst we waited for Mars to rise we tested everything on M13 - not a particulary great addition to our gallary, but pleasing nonetheless. This was the first deep sky object I ever observed with my new telescope and its one I've followed for years.