“If I take dust in my hand and ask you if that is all the dust there is, you will answer that dust is everywhere on earth. More specks than can ever be numbered. So I can give you a handful of truth only. Besides this there are other truths. More than can ever be numbered.” -Nadeem Aslam

Some objects in the night sky are more unusual than others in appearance. In particular, when we find something out-of-the-ordinary, like a normally spherical class of objects that looks flattened, it’s only natural to wonder why.

Image credit: Doug Williams, REU Program / NOAO / AURA / NSF, via http://www.noao.edu/image_gallery/html/im0567.html.

Image credit: Doug Williams, REU Program / NOAO / AURA / NSF, via http://www.noao.edu/image_gallery/html/im0567.html.

But what might be a more interesting question — and certainly a more profound question — is whether we can trust this cluster’s appearance at all? Is it flattened, or is something faking us out, and if so, what?

Image credit: Jim Misti of Misti Mountain Observatory, via http://www.mistisoftware.com/astronomy/Clusters_m19.htm.

Image credit: Jim Misti of Misti Mountain Observatory, via http://www.mistisoftware.com/astronomy/Clusters_m19.htm.

Come find out the answers — and all about this object — on today’s Messier Monday!

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