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Our Featured Celestial Object of October 2018: Messier 2


Messier 2 (M2) is a stunning globular cluster with over 150,000 stars. This cluster is located in the constellation Aquarius and is around 37,000 light-years away from Earth. Not only is Messier 2 one of the first globular clusters to be entered into the Messier catalog but it is one of the largest clusters of its kind, with a diameter of approximately 150 light years. M2 is a stunning spherical group of stars, that got their shape from the similarities in the gravitational attractions, thus causing them to form in a spherical shape.

Like most objects in space, the discovery of M2 was unintentional. M2 was discovered in 1746 by French Astronomer Jean-Dominique Maraldi. Originally, Maraldi was observing a comet with Jacques Cassins when he came across this cluster of stars.

It was first believed that this cluster was non-stellar because when viewed with a smaller telescope, or the naked eye it can appear to be a Nebula without any stars. When looked at closer, M2 was observed with individual stars, categorizing it as a cluster, not a nebula.

This beautiful grouping of stars is Lowell Observatory’s featured celestial object for the month of October. This is because it has been deemed the best month to view this Globular Cluster of stars.