FUZZY SPOT, July 2003, Ophiuchus
Ophiuchus is the Serpent Bearer, taming the great serpent in the sky. It has a couple of unique characteristics amongst the constellations. It is the only constellation to split another constellation into two parts, Serpens Cauda and Serpens Caput. Also, it is the only non-zodiac constellation to have the ecliptic pass through it.
Ophiuchus is one of those constellations that signals the rising of the Summer Milky Way. As it rises, you start to see some of the star clouds that makes you think for a moment "darn, there's clouds coming up on the horizon." However, most of Ophiuchus is covered by dark dust, so there's not a lot of typical Milky Way objects. What is there however, is globular cluster and more globular cluster. This is because the center of the Milky Way is on the Ophiuchus - Sagittarius boundary. I've decided to cover the seven Messier Objects this month. Unless specified, all of these observations are from my 10" scope.
NGC 6171 (16 32.5 -13 03) M-107, the
first Messier object in RA is pretty big and pretty bright.
I was able to resolve about 50 stars over a very granular
haze. There is not a lot of brightening or condensation
toward the middle. The shape is unusual in that there is a
possible elongation E/W.
NGC 6218 (16 47.2 -01 57) M-12 is pretty large, very bright, and somewhat condensed toward the middle. I was able to resolve about 25 stars over a very definite granular haze in the middle. The outer part shows a fainter granular haze that extends out quite a distance, especially S and SE. The N and NW sides are pretty well cut off. In the 20" scope from near Flagstaff, I saw it as very large, pretty bright, with many loose stragglers over a very granular haze. I estimated about 200 stars resolved. The core is round, but the overall shape is very irregular.
NGC 6254 (16 57.1 -04 06) M-10 is pretty large and pretty bright. It has a quite bright but even middle, the outlying stars are dimmer threshold stars. There are no real bright stars like M-12. I could resolve about 30-40 stars. The field stars around it form a triangle pointing SSE.
NGC 6266 (17 01.2 -30 07) M-62 is pretty bright, pretty large, and has a large fairly faint halo which gradually brightens up to the middle then suddenly brightens up to the core. The halo is extremely granular with the core being slightly granular. I was unable to resole any stars in this cluster. To the S is a star just on the edge of halo. To the E, it darkens up quickly, giving the cluster a halo-moon shape. It has a nice sugary texture, extending out quite a ways.
NGC 6273 (17 02.6 -26 16) M-19 is quite large, very bright, and has a very bright granular middle over a granular halo that extends quite a bit. The halo is round with a darkening on SE side. I was able to resolve about 3-4 stars with others coming and going with the seeing. After observing many non-Messier globular cluster, it was nice to come to a bright one with many features detectable.
NGC 6333 (17 19.2 -18 31) M-9 is pretty bright, somewhat large, round, but the halo is slightly triangular with averted vision. I could resolve 7-8 stars over a very granular haze. The somewhat faint halo brightens up quickly to the middle, then more slowly to the core. The core is somewhat granular while the halo is extremely granular. There are some nice field stars.
NGC 6402 (17 37.6 -03 15) M-14 is the last Messier globular cluster in Ophiuchus. It is pretty bright, somewhat large, round, gradually brightening to the middle, with no core. It is only slightly resolvable around the edge. In the middle, 3-4 stars are resolved, otherwise it is a granular haze. Some nice field stars surround this cluster.
Herschel 400 Objects
6171, 6235, 6284, 6287, 6293, 6304, 6316, 6342, 6355, 6356, 6369, 6401, 6426, 6517, 6633
SACs 110 Best of the NGC Objects