M68 (NGC 4590) -- Globular Cluster in Hydra
Location is Everything
When I read that James O’Meara had glimpsed the Globular Cluster M68 visually, without
aid, from Hawaii, I just shook my head. Where I live the sky glow from a nearby mall and
Washington D.C. contaminates my low southern horizon to the point that I have never seen
this globular from my back yard, in any of my telescopes. Fortunately, a short drive to Carrs
Mill Park gets me out of the worst of the light pollution (but not all). Still, under the Park’s
improved sky, M68 becomes real.
Using the 110mm Refractor the globular is far from being resolved. Except for a few of its
brighter components, all one million of its stars melt into a patchy blur of starlight. The stars
of Globular Clusters are old. Those of M68 are twice the age of our sun. Beings, if any,
that live on planets surrounding the stars in M68, would have had twice the time to evolve as
us humans on Earth. Their sky would be full of intensely bright stars. I wonder if light
pollution is something they must contend with.