M14 (NGC 6402) -- Globular Cluster in Ophiuchus
It was a clear sky, but a bright gibbous moon shone through most of the night. The
atmosphere was too unstable for me to focus on the planets. Mars was a boiling-red
blob in the eyepiece and even Jupiter and Saturn showed muffled detail due to the
unsteady atmosphere. Most deep-sky objects are little effected by an unstable
atmosphere but are washed out by the moon’s dominance in the sky.
I only had an hour-or-so of real darkness right before dawn, after the moon had set, and
before the sun’s morning rays began to lighten the eastern horizon. I choose M14 as
my target, a subtle globular cluster in the upper section of the constellation Ophiuchus.
Once M14 came into focus, the previous frustrations of this morning’s observations
began to drift from my mind. Greeting me in the eyepiece was a spherical mass of
several hundred-thousand stars gravitationally-bound within a 106 light-years of space
shining from an inconceivable distance of 33,300 light-years. It was a welcomed sight.