Archive for March, 2011

M3

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

As the seasons change (and it becomes possible to spend more time at the telescope without freezing too badly) our favorite spring constellations are now available for prime time viewing. Among these is the small constellation Canes Venatici, notable for containing several galaxies and M3, a very nice globular cluster.  With an apparant magnitude of 6.2, M3 is a little beyond what most can see with the naked eye. But with even a small telescope it comes nicely into view.

The easiest way to find M3 is to start with the very bright star Arcturus, in the neighboring constellation Boötes. From there imagine a line to Cor Caroli, at magnitude 2.9 the brightest star in Canes Venatici. M3 can be found along that line, just a bit to the Arcturus side of center. With no bright stars nearby to guide you, M3 can be a bit tricky to find. You may have to sweep your scope along that line several times before spotting it. But once you find it, this globular cluster is worth the effort.