Clusters by the Creator on Date Night

The beauty of globular clusters was the object of our attention for the summer night. We had been looking for opportunity to see the southern section of the Milky Way, but it was a bit to early and we were a bit too tired. To our advantage this evening, no one joined us, so it was a private time together as we set up the little four-inch refractor with a flip lens. That arrangement permits us to look through optics at first, but transition to an astro-video camera for a more in-depth observation.

Faylene got comfortable in a seat at the low door of the little dome while I was under the business end of the scope to change astro-video settings and angle the little 12-inch monitor so both of us could see it. We sat together for an hour and a half as we went from M10 and M12 first, then to M4 and M80.

Globular clusters, those little snowballs in the sky, are not all the same. When observed through optics, they are soft little fuzz balls but differ. Some are tight with a big nucleus; some are large with a diffuse nucleus; star densities vary; colors vary; and each has unique features. M10 and M12 are close, like sisters, in a common constellation, yet they are different.

The Master Creator knew what He was doing when he created and placed globular clusters. This type of object displays His power, creativity, and majesty. On the other hand, to evolutionists, they are without good explanation. How does one explain groupings of stars (as few as 1000 and as many as a half million among all the clusters) that are gravitationally related in the middle of nowhere in space? And what scarfed up space along our line of sight and around the clusters so we can see them so well? The best answer is the biblical one: “He made the stars.” Or He “set them in place” as Psalm 8 explains.

Moving on to M4 and M80, which are lower in the sky in the south at this time of year for us, they are like cousins (not as close as the “sisters” we first observed). M4 and M80 are dramatically different. M10 and 12 are also different as their apparent densities are different and the nucleus regions are different. Granted, we are just using a little refractor with astro-video. In astronomical terms, this is a very low-end capability, but it does not take away enjoying each object’s general characteristics.

So why sketch them rather than take a picture? When I work a sketch, I have to look 40 or 50 times in the space of 15-20 minutes at each object. Using a stippling technique, I am not looking for star placement accuracy as much as density changes, general size of the cluster compared to the nucleus area, and unique density changes as one studies each one with a relaxed look at the monitor. By the time you are done, you remember the object. Rarely do I remember this kind of detail looking at a photograph. Besides, this is live observing, or close to it. We are observing what we see as best we can under real conditions. That comprises a discipline that aids appreciating what you see.

It may seem strange, but for us the time was also a date. We were close, talked about each one, looked at the differences and similarities of the objects, and gazed at each other as well as the heavens above whenever we wanted. That’s a date, and with our marriage, we take dating seriously. This one was grand, and we summarized our time with one statement we commonly use, “It is a good day to give thanks.


The Technical Stuff:

Magnification: about 100 with the MallinCan Hyper Color Astro Video Camera, which was set on 1.8s or 7s dwell time, 50% gain

Magnification: about 30 with a Plossl eyepiece for initial setup and centering of object

Base Telescope and Mount: SV102ED fitted on an old LXD75 mount

Observers: Roland and Faylene Beard        Observing time: about 90 minutes    Place: Bear Creek. North Carolina at the Day 4 Observing Site

Local conditions: patchy high clouds/poor observing conditions/75 deg F/9:30-10 PM Local Time

Sketch medium/paper: prismacolor pencils (white, orange, red, yellow) on Strathmore Black paper 6×9; stippling technique

Monitor with image for study: 12 inch color monitor/12V/4:3 ratio

Maker of the Scene: God Himself


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