Messier 11 (NGC 6705) "Wild Duck Cluster"
Distance - 6,000 light years The dense grouping of stars forming Messier 11 is is known as an open cluster [sometimes also known as a "galactic cluster"]. Open clusters are believed to originate in the same general area of space from the same local gas clouds. The dense grouping of stars seen above are all about the same approximate distance from us. It is believed that eventually the component stars of open clusters slowly drift apart and disperse. Messier 11 is one of the richest and most compact of the open clusters. The cluster contains an estimated 2,900 individual stars and is believed to have formed approximately 220 million years ago. M11 was "discovered" by the German astronomer Gottfried Kirch of the Berlin observatory in 1681. It was apparently first resolved into stars by William Derham about 1733. Charles Messier included it in his catalog on May 30, 1764. For more information on open star clusters see: http://www.seds.org/messier/open.html http://www.seds.org/messier/m/m011.html
July 18, 2004
RGB Image - R - 21 sec. x 10, G - 12 sec. x 10, B - 15 sec. x10
Little Blair Valley, San Diego County, CA
Optics - Takahashi MT-200 8 inch Newtonian at f/4.8 Mount - Astro-Physics AP 900 GTO Camera - SBIG ST-2000XM