M3 Amongst the Hunting Dogs

Messier 3 - Adam Block - Mount Lemmon SkyCenter - University of Arizona.jpgAnother lovely deep space, object, isn’t it? Such clusters of stars orbit beyond the plane of the Milky Way spiral. They are very old bodies, many with stars nearly as old as the universe. In some globular clusters, their blue stars have burned out, leaving more aged yellows, oranges, and reds. Where did they come from? Astronomers aren’t sure. Antiques from the early universe? Renmant cores of small galaxies torn apart by bigger galaxies? Maybe varied origins, though they all look alike to me.

Charles Messier, numberer of deep space objects, actually discovered number 3, above. As with #2, he first saw it as a patch of light in the night sky. Where to look if you want to see it? The constellation of the hunting dogs, Canes Venatici. As with M2, a sharp eye and a very dark night puts M3 at the very edge of natural visibility. Also as with M2, William Herschel was able to verify it was not just a cloud, but a cluster of closely-packed stars. Thanks to Herschel’s very best telescope in the world of the 1780s, those stars could finally be discerned. M3 wasn’t a nebula like M1. It was a cluster of stars, numbering we now know as about a half million.

When I see these clusters, I’m reminded of the Easter Vigil reading from Baruch:

The One who established the earth for all time … he who dismisses the light, and it departs, calls it, and it obeys him trembling; before whom the stars at their posts shine and rejoice;when he calls them, they answer, “Here we are!” shining with joy for their Maker. Such is our God; no other is to be compared to him … (Baruch 3:32b, 33-36)

Image Credit: Copyright Adam Block/Mount Lemmon SkyCenter/University of Arizona – http://www.caelumobservatory.com/gallery/m3.shtml, CC BY-SA 3.0 us, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20717561

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in Astronomy. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s