Sunday, August 19, 2012

Gravity at Work

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows Messier 72, a beautiful example of a globular cluster in the constellation of Aquarius. Globulars are among my favorite things to view with my telescope or even a good pair of binoculars. The strange thing about globulars (to me) is where you can find the most in the night sky: among constellations such as Sagittarius and Scorpius, towards the center of our own Milky Way galaxy. Why strange? Globulars are rare (having been consumed by their larger neighbor) and orbit outside the galaxy, so it is strange that it is easier to spot them looking towards the center, rather than out from the center (in the Milky Way's attic of the constellations on the opposite part of the sky from the two named above).

Richard Feynman once said in response to a picture of Messier 2, another globular cluster:

"He who cannot see gravity at work here has no soul."

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