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Messier 30 - A Globular Cluster in Capricornus

Updated: Jun 7, 2023

Messier 30 is a bright globular cluster that is not easily visible for northern hemisphere observers as it lies in the Southern constellation Capricornus and so does not rise much in the horizon. It has a magnitude of 7.7 and is about 93 light-years wide.

We imaged M30 at random, just wanted to squeeze in this object before packing up and going home, and so only spent thirty minutes on it. From a Bortle 5 zone, it was just enough to get a great image!

Telescope and Milky Way
The gear used to image M30

The equipment we used to capture Messier 30 is shown on the right.

We used our very first telescope, the 8" reflector from Orion, the Software Bisque MyT Paramount (read our full review HERE!), and the QHY128C camera, which is a full frame One Shot Color camera, great for clusters and galaxies!

Here is our image of the globular cluster M30, with only 30 minutes of total integration time!

Messier 30 using the Orion 8" Astrograph and the QHY128C

Messier 30 Astrophotography - QHY128C


Camera: QHYCCD 128C

Telescope: 8" Newtonian

Guiding: N/A

Processing: Pixinsight


Total Exposure Time: 30 minutes

Exposure Time per frame: 30 seconds

Gain: 3200


How to Locate Messier 30

How to find the globular cluster M30 in the night sky, map

Messier 30 lies in Capricornus, a Southern constellation that is visible to Northern observers low in the sky. M30 is located near the edge of Capricornus towards Piscis Austrinus.

To find it, first locate the constellation, which is not easy due to it being very faint overall. Once you know you are looking in the right direction, try to spot the 5.2 magnitude star "41 Capricorni". This star is bright enough to be visible through any pair of binoculars, telescope, or finder scope and lies very close to the cluster. You can see this star in our image.

Cool Facts About Messier 30

  • Discovered in 1764

  • Charles Messier described it as a nebula without any star

  • Lies 27,100 light-years away from Earth


How to Process Messier 30

Processing this globular cluster was very easy and it was really straightforward. There is no nebulosity visible anywhere around the cluster, and there is only one very bright star in the vicinity (41 Capricorni).

There are several small galaxies here and there but those were not challenging to take care of at all as they are tiny and without any detail.

Messier 30 globular cluster astrophotography
Zooming in on the globular cluster M30 in our image

The main challenge is of course to bring out as many individual stars as possible in the cluster itself. This is mostly possible if your tracking or guiding was excellent.

In our case, the guiding was turned off to avoid any correction sent to the mount as we knew the polar alignment was somewhat perfect.

Taking 30-second shots was the safest way to get round stars that were not overblown.

In processing, several tools can be used to sharpen the stars in the core of the clusters. You can also play with highlights and crispness sliders in Lightroom or Photoshop to further define the individual stars.

Need help processing your images? Consider our Astrophotography Consulting Services.

What did our single shots look like?

You may be wondering what a single shot of 30 seconds looks like. Here is one from a Bortle 5 zone.

A single 30 second shot of Messier 30 with the QHY128C Camera
A single 30 second shot of Messier 30

We processed this image using the usual, basic workflow we've been using for years.

You can get our full PixInsight workflow as a PDF "follow along" file HERE.


Final Thoughts

Messier 30 is your typical, average globular cluster. It is a great target to observe with a pair of binoculars or any size telescope and is easy to photograph. It does not rise very high for northern observers so know that you might be shooting through atmospheric turbulences. As you can see from our result, just 30 minutes of total exposure was enough to get a reasonable image.

Have you captured the M30 globular cluster? Attach your image in the comments and let us know what you used!

Make sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube to stay up to date with our work!

Clear Skies,

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