It is with Admiral Smyth that we owe the interesting name of M11 as the Wild Duck Cluster. His view in 1835 seemed to elicit visions of wild ducks flying in the distant sky. With the growth of large cities, seeing similar flocks fill the sky are most rare indeed. This is certainly one of the more compact examples of open star clusters with members numbering nearly 3,000 stars. With the most aged stars in this cluster being only 220 million years old we can say they are still quite young. But the true vision of wild ducks can be better glimpsed by our understanding of these stars' orbits. A picture like this is only a snapshot of the convoluted and complex orbital interactions these stars dance through time. Each star affects the other in their messy mingle about each other; as ducks then they would appear to be very confused. A stargazer on a planet orbiting one of these stars would see a sky filled with hundreds of nearly identical 1st magnitude stars. Image trying to keep track of their names!
Click on image for larger version.


20in RC Optical Systems telescope Operating at f/8.4
Paramount ME Robotic Telescope Mount
SBIG ST10XME CCD camera with color filter wheel

L R G B color production was used to create this image.

Luminance = synthetic binned 1x1
Red = 6 minutes binned 1x1
Green = 6 minutes binned 1x1
Blue = 6 minutes binned 1x1

Minimum credit line: Adam Block/NOAO/AURA/NSF


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Updated: 07/14/2005