Messier Monday: A Southern Sky Surprise, M80 (Synopsis)

“In a word, in the eyes of a giant, to whom our Suns were what our atoms are to us, the Milky Way would only look like a bubble of gas.” -Henri Poincaré

When it comes to the wonders of the night sky, it seems like no matter what direction you look in, if you peer far enough, you're bound to see something distant, exotic and wonderful. But the Messier catalogue is special for exactly the opposite reason: these are the brightest, most prominent objects as seen from our corner of the Universe.

Image credit: Jim Mazur’s Astrophotography via Skyledge, at Image credit: Jim Mazur’s Astrophotography via Skyledge, at

Today's object, Messier 80, is special for a number of reasons, including the extremely large number of blue straggler stars found in its core. But it's also extremely noteworthy for the opportunity it gives us to highlight the contributions of an astronomer whose work should be even more highly valued than it already is: Helen Sawyer Hogg, who helped us understand this entire class of object -- the globular cluster -- better than ever before.

Image credit: Jim Misti of Misti Mountain Observatory, via Image credit: Jim Misti of Misti Mountain Observatory, via

Go read the whole fantastic story -- and check out the fantastic full-resolution images -- here!


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Nice :)

A question, are there any indications that clusters like these have black hole(s) in their centers, or inside the central region. Don't mean super massive ones, but regular ones, 10-20 Sol m.?

By Sinisa Lazarek (not verified) on 30 Jun 2014 #permalink

Thank you Ethan for all of your great articles on the Messier objects! They are very informative & fun to read. I have located 20 of the Messier Globulars in my telescope this spring/summer with your assistance.

By David Flock (not verified) on 02 Jul 2014 #permalink