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 http://www.skyledge.net/Messier80.htm. Image credit: Jim Mazur’s Astrophotography via Skyledge, at http://www.skyledge.net/Messier80.htm.

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 http://www.mistisoftware.com/astronomy/Clusters_m80.htm. Image credit: Jim Misti of Misti Mountain Observatory, via http://www.mistisoftware.com/astronomy/Clusters_m80.htm.

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

Tags

More like this

“The only thing I have learnt over the years is that if you enjoy your work and put in the best efforts, it will show. If you follow this process, things work out. But if you go chasing a formula, success will elude you.” -Mahesh Babu When you know something is there but you can't find it for…
“I told my father that someday when I grow up and become an astronomer ‘I’m going to discover something.’” -Thomas Bopp But who ever would have imagined that a kid with an armchair interest in astronomy, one who as an adult didn't even own a telescope, would stare into a friend's one fateful night…
“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…
"I would rather have one article a day of this sort; and these ten or twenty lines might readily represent a whole day's hard work in the way of concentrated, intense thinking and revision, polish of style, weighing of words." -Joseph Pulitzer When it comes to the Messier objects, though, it isn't …

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