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Messier 56 - Backyard Astrophotography Without Filters or Calibration Frames

Updated: Jun 7, 2023

Messier 56 is a globular cluster in Lyra. It is a rarely photographed object located not far from the famous Ring Nebula (M57).

Object Designation: M56

Constellation: Lyra

Object Type: Globular Cluster

Distance: 32,900 light-years away

Magnitude: 8.3

Discovered in: 1779

Tonight is my first time using the SVX130 with the QHY600C camera.

This is more of a test than a true first light. The goal was to try out the camera without any light pollution filter (despite our insanely light-polluted backyard at Bortle 9) and to only spend one hour on a target. I also did not use any dark or flat frame and only spent one hour in total on this target.

In case you didn't know, we are currently using this telescope seen on the right: the Stellarvue SVX130 that our friend Mark is lending us until next year, along with his camera, the incredible QHY600C. We cannot thank Mark enough for trusting us with this equipment and hope to create wonderful images with it!

I picked M56 at random. I wanted an easy object to image and know that most globular clusters in the Messier catalog are pretty bright and do not have anything tricky about them.

Messier 56 by the Hubble Space Telescope
Messier 56 by the Hubble Space Telescope

Messier 56 is rarely photographed, but it is a nice globular cluster not far from the popular Ring Nebula (M57).

The object is traveling through the Milky Way in a retrograde orbit, which means it is going in the opposite direction as the spiral arms of our galaxy.

In photographs, M56 appears mostly white with some hints of yellows. It also has a few blue stars. The core is dense but many individual stars can be resolved.

Below is our own image. Once again it is only one hour of exposure, from the city, without a filter, and with no calibration frames!

Messier 56 from our Bortle 9 backyard without a filter