Some of the most fascinating objects in the night sky are the globular clusters. These are enormous spherical clusters of stars, roughly 10,000 to 1,000,000 in number, and hundreds of light years in diameter. An estimated two hundred of them are in orbit round our Milky Way Galaxy. They are very old structures – the stars in them were amongst the first to be formed in the Universe, and are some 12-14 billion years old. Some of the globular clusters are hidden behind the Milky Way, but we can observe 147 of them through telescopes.
One of these is the globular cluster M13, in the constellation Hercules, shown on the sky map (see below). It can only be seen with the naked eye under extremely dark skies, but is a magnificent object through binoculars or a telescope. This photo of M13 was taken by Simon Harding, Torbay’s top astro-photographer (see above).
After our usual summer break, the Torbay Astronomical Society will be starting its meetings again in September. On Thursday 12 September, we shall be hearing from Dr Chris Brunt, from Exeter University, on the topic “High Resolution Imaging”. Then on Thursday 26 September, our observational evening will be focussing on M27, M13 and the double cluster.
All meetings are held at Torquay Boys’ Grammar School, Shiphay Manor Drive, from 7.30pm until 10pm. The lecture meetings are in their Business & Enterprise Suite, and observational evenings start out in the Physics Lab PL4. Visitors and new members are very welcome. Membership for the year is £15 (only £10 for 65s and over), and visitors are charged £3 for lectures and £2 for observational evenings.
The society has a new website at http://www.torbayastro.org.uk and this gives full details of all our activities.