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Messier 2 - Globular Cluster in Aquarius

Updated: Jun 7, 2023

Messier 2, is a globular cluster located pretty far from us, at 37,500 light-years away in the constellation of Aquarius. M2 is one of the oldest and largest known globular clusters. It has a diameter of 175 light-years and a magnitude of 6.3. The lower the magnitude in number, the brighter the object is, and magnitude 6 is still visible but anything higher is too faint.

At the time of photographing this object, the California Wildfires had been raging for weeks, and as a consequence, the skies in Nevada (where we live) were very smoky day and night. However, we decided to image regardless hoping for the best. We became discouraged seeing what our single shots looked like (scroll down!)

messier 2 astrophotography


Processing: Pixinsight


Total Exposure Time: 1 hour

Exposure Time per frame: 3 minutes

20 lights - 15 Darks - 15 Bias

ISO: 400


How to Locate Messier 2

how to find Messier 2

Messier 2 can be seen towards the edge of Aquarius, where it meets Equuleus (the small horse) and Aquila (the eagle).


Single Shot & Processing of M2

Here is what a single shot of Messier 2 looked like on our camera. When zooming in, you can see a lot of noise and overall, what seemed to be a blurry, hazy layer. We had hopes that the smoke would not affect DSOs much, but seeing this, we decided to stop after just one hour of imaging.

messier 2 astrophotography

Stacking our 20 images helped, of course, but it was obviously not enough, as you can see in the screenshot below, taken right after the basic stacking process. As you can see, it looks pretty terrible. Thankfully, we managed to use PixInsight's magic to get a final image that is not too terrible.

messier 2 astrophotography

The night itself wasn't bad, we took photos of the Milky Way, and the planets so that our time wouldn't have been completely wasted. We packed hoping our work could be salvaged.

messier 2 astrophotography close up

Here is a better view of the cluster.

Probably our worst one yet, we now realize that we should have continued the imaging instead of being discouraged by the smoke...


Messier 2 Log Entry Video


Final Thoughts

Messier 2 is a great-looking cluster that does not seem difficult to image. We sadly did not get the best out of it, but we might revisit it in the future to properly capture all its beauty!

Clear Skies,

Galactic Hunter

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