NGC 6342 -- Globular Cluster in Ophiuchus
A Triangle of Globular Clusters – NGC 6342
Three Globular Clusters occur in a tight 3-degree triangle in the constellation Ophiuchus.
M9 and NGC 6356 are bright while the third NGC 6342 is much dimmer. As a rule, to
visit one, you might as well visit all three. None of the three show any real structure or
are resolved from my suburban house with the 6-inch refractor, but they make a nice
triplet to visit during a nice transparent sky. To me M9 and NGC 6356 are so close in
brightness and size to each other, it is a surprise that Messier only notice one of the
clusters. It is sad that he missed NGC 6356, which to me, is the most interesting of the
two. Yes, M9 is a bit brighter, but NGC 6356 is twice the distance from us and is so
large that it ends-up appearing as a close-equal to M9 in the night sky. The dim
NGC 6342 is a challenge under light-polluted skies and thus was a harder object to find.
It took a bit of patience and time, but I finally located its soft glow – not something I can
always accomplish from the deck of my house under less transparent skies.
M9 made Messier’s list, NGC 6356 made Stephen O’Meara’s Secret Deep list (#77)
and both NGC 6356 and NGC 6342 made the Herschel 400 list. But who listed them
are not important; their close location to each other makes them greater than their