Backyard astronomy in the suburbs

Messier 3, a beautiful stellar city

In Canes Venatici you can observe one of the most beautiful globular clusters visible from the Northern hemisphere, Messier 3. On may 30th 2021, around 00:15 hours, M3 was visible high in the southwestern sky. The seeing was good, the transparency excellent (4 out of 5). Of course, by the end of may, the nights are more or less grey instead of black. However, the view of Messier 3 through the Dobson on this evening was simply beautiful. The sketch below is just a very basic impression of what I saw, a shimmering ball of light in a triangle of brighter stars, with stars spread out all over the cluster, from the outer rims right into the clusters centre. What a view! The cluster was well resolved into individual stars, but many weaker ones kept popping in and oud of view, especially when using averted vision. It also grew about 1/3 using averted vision. M3 clearly showed a bright core surrounded by a halo of stars that gradually got weaker towards the rim of the cluster.

Apart from the glorious Messier 3, the deep yellow star (HD119081, K3III Giant) at the top left was quite beautiful to see, as was the little arc of stars going from M3 towards the brighter star bottom left.

In the sketch South is up and west is to the left. The instrument used was a f/5.3 300mm Dobson, combined with a 17mm Nagler eyepiece. This results in a magnification of 94x and a field of view of 52 arcminutes. The sketch was originally made at the telescope with pencil on white paper, and later scanned and processed in Affinity Photo.

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