FUZZY SPOT,  July 2002, Hercules

This month we are looking at one of the great heroes in the sky, Hercules.  The star pattern is very distinctive, although I always seem to have a hard time initially finding it in they sky.  I look for the pattern of Pi, Eta, Zeta, Beta, Delta, and Epsilon which, at least to me, looks like a stick figure of a butterfly.

There are a few bright objects in Hercules, specifically the Great Globular Cluster M-13.  Beyond these few showpieces, most of what remains are faint galaxies.  We'll take a look at the star objects plus a few of the fainter ones.  Unless specified, all observations are in the 10" scope.

        NGC 6058 (16 04.4 +40 41) This planetary nebula is pretty faint, pretty small, round, and is sitting in the middle of a triangle of stars.  It responds somewhat to the UHC filter.  There possibly is a star involved on the E, and I suspected a central star with a dark area around it.  Using averted vision helps a little.

        NGC 6166 (16 28.7 +39 34)  In the 10" scope, this galaxy is a very faint spot situated in a small half-circle of stars.  I couldn’t make out any detail, and almost lost it completely at higher magnification. In the 20" scope it is a little bright, little large, and elongated 1.5:1  E/W.  The middle is slightly brighter.  What makes this object interesting (and the reason I included it here) is the many faint companions seen using averted vision.  I was able to see 6 companions including MCG+7-34-76, MCG+7-34-65, MCG+7-34-65, MCG+7-34-54, MCG+7-34-48, and the last one unidentified.  As a note, this object is not listed in Sky Atlas 2000.

        NGC 6205 (16 41.7 +36 28) M-13 is the Great Globular Cluster in Hercules, and is the first globular cluster that most people observe.  It is very bright, very large, with 5 strings of stars noticed.  There are many many stars observed, I estimated 100 stars seen with direct vision, using averted vision brings out tons more.  The background haze is even and round, brightening up quite a bit to the middle.

        NGC 6207 (16 43.1 +36 50)  This galaxy is next to M-13 and is somewhat overshadowed by its brighter partner.  Next to M-13, it is real small but easy to find.  As a galaxy (ignoring M-13), it is pretty large, elongated, and much brighter in the middle.  There are 4 brighter stars around it and 4 fainter stars just E of galaxy. If you want a real toughie roughly half way between this object and M-13 is IC 4617.  I have been barely able to detect it in the 20" scope sitting next to two faint stars which are part of  parallelogram of stars.

        NGC 6210 (16 44.5 +23 49)  In the 10" scope, this planetary nebula is pretty small, pretty bright, and elongated E/W.  The halo is subtle at best, with the UHC filter bringing it out only slightly.  There is a very definite blue tinge to it.  No central star or other details were noticed.  In the 20" scope, it is very bright, pretty small, and round.  There is a very slight halo (not sure what I meant by that) which is much fainter.  The central star was suspected with averted vision.

        NGC 6229 (16 47.0 +47 32)  This globular cluster is the 3rd best one in Hercules (behind the two Messier objects).  It makes a nice triangle with 2 bright stars.  The cluster is somewhat small, fairly bright, round, and brighter towards middle.  I couldn't resolve any stars, but the texture of the haze is grainy.

        NGC 6341 (17 17.1 +43 08)  Our last object, M-92, is the second great cluster in Hercules.  Had this object been in any other constellation and a little easier to find, it would rate as a top notch object, and is indeed one of my favorite globular cluster.  It is pretty large and pretty bright, with 5 nice strings of stars.  Unusual for a globular cluster, it has a slight elongation N/S.  The halo gradually brightens up to a bright middle.  Many stars were resolved over both halo and middle, I estimated 100 stars seen with direct vision.

Herschel 400 Objects
6207, 6229
SAC’s 110 Best of the NGC Objects
6207, 6210