Globular cluster in Sagittarius

Messier 54 is a fairly unique object because it is one of just a few globular clusters that are easy to observe, but not part of our own Milky Way galaxy. Although it is located in Sagittarius, a constellation that contains the center of the Milky Way galaxy, Messier 54 actually resides beyond the far edge of our galaxy, near the center of a small satellite galaxy called the Sagittarius Dwarf Elliptical Galaxy. The dwarf galaxy is one of the closest companions to the Milky Way galaxy.

Messier 54 is not hard to find along the base of the teapot shape of Sagittarius, just a few degrees to the west of the southern-most star of the teapot handle.

Magnitude 8.4
Apparent Size 12'
Distance (light yrs) 87,400
Right Ascension 18:55.0
Declination -30 28
Field of View 35' x 27'

Image details:  Exposure times of 7.5 minutes luminance and 3 minutes each of red, green, and blue, taken with an SBIG ST-8300M camera through a Meade 12” telescope at f/5.6.

October 2011