M 72 (NGC 6981) -- Globular Cluster in Aquarius
Messier’s Faintest Globular Cluster
M72 shines at magnitude 9.2 in Aquarius, a constellation that is low in the southern sky in
my area and is often compromised by light pollution. Still I have little trouble spotting M72
with the 110mm refractor from our local Astronomy Club Observatory at Alpha Ridge Park.
With the small refractor, I cannot resolve the cluster, but again, it does not appear
completely uniform. The core appears to extend its brightness outward in three slightly-
brighter wide-spokes to the edge of the cluster’s glow.
M72, like all Globular Clusters, rewards the observer with large aperture telescopes. Only
then can the tens-to-hundreds-of-thousands of stars resolve to show the true essence of
these magnificent clusters. Still I can mentally appreciate the soft glow in the eyepiece, for
what it truly is, even when viewing through my small refractor.