NGC 5139: Omega Centauri

The name "Omega Centauri" should hint that this particular cluster is quite special. As viewed from Earth, Omega Cen (as it is often called) is certainly one of the most dazzling of globular clusters that orbits our galaxy. Before the use of good telescopes (and optics) this cluster was known as a "star" in the constellation of Centaurus (and hence the name). However, under a dark sky this cluster certainly hints at more. It takes on the appearence of fuzzy patch of light- not unlike many other closer star clusters (M41, M44, M35, etc). However, at a distance of 20,000 lights years away, it is only due to the sheer number of stars- easily more than 500,000- that we can see it this easily. A telescopic view reveals the sparkling glitter shown to the left. From Kitt Peak, this cluster barely climbs more than 10 degrees above the horizon. As such, the image quality isn't great- but the overall impression of this cluster is maintained. Interestingly, Omega Cen is one of the few clusters that is currently passing directly through the plane of our galaxy.
Click on image for larger version.


76mm Televue (480mm f/6.3 with 0.8x Feild Corrector)
SBIG ST10XME CCD camera with color filter wheel

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

Luminance = synthetic
Red = 20 minutes binned 1x1
Green = 20 minutes binned 1x1
Blue = 20 minutes binned 1x1

  • Very low in the sky. Imaged through haze.
  • Minimum credit line: Adam Block/NOAO/AURA/NSF

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    Updated: 04/16/2005