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.
RC Optical Systems telescope Operating at f/8.4
Paramount ME Robotic Telescope Mount
SBIG ST10XME CCD camera with color filter wheel
Minimum credit line: Adam Block/NOAO/AURA/NSF
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