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M12 - The Gumball Cluster in Ophiuchus | Astrophotography Tips & Pictures

Messier 12 is an impressive globular cluster in the constellation Ophiuchus. It is bright and very compact, and got the nickname of "Gumball Cluster". In this post, you will find information, images, and tips to photograph this beautiful cluster.

Object Designation: M12, NGC 6218

Also known as: The Gumball Cluster

Constellation: Ophiuchus

Object Type: Globular Cluster

Distance: 16,400-23,000 light-years away

Magnitude: 7.7

Discovery: Charles Messier on May 30, 1764

The Gumball Cluster is not a difficult target for beginner astrophotographers. Because of how dense the cluster is, you will need to make sure your mount is tracking well and that you're imaging on a night free of wind to avoid any messy results. Being in Ophiuchus, M12 is a nice Summer astrophotography target.


M12 Astrophotography with a RASA 8 and Color Camera

August 2023

Capturing Messier 12 was not one of my goals this Summer, but I decided to fit it in anyway at the beginning of a night before switching to another target. I only spent one hour on M12, which ended up being just enough to obtain a beautiful image thanks to the dark Bortle 2 skies of Utah Desert Remote Observatories paired with the f/2 optics of the RASA 8 telescope.

The image turned out great, but very faint hints of IFN throughout the field of view make me wish I spent more than one hour on this target!

Messier 12 Gumball Cluster Astrophotography


Camera: ZWO ASI2600MC

Telescope: Celestron RASA 8

Mount: 10Micron GM1000 HPS

Processing: Pixinsight, with R-C Astro plugins. Final touches in Skylum Luminar Neo


Total Exposure Time: