|NGC 5139 "Omega Centauri": Globular Star Cluster (Centaurus) RA: 13h 26.8m / DEC: -47° 28'.6|
Instrument: 10-inch Starfinder
No matter how many photographs you may have seen, you are not prepared for your first view of this magnificent king of the globular clusters. Omega Centauri, NGC 5139, is simply one of the most stunning objects in the heavens. No other globular even comes close to rivalling it in sheer beauty and majesty. Omega Cen achieves the haughty elevation of 7.5 degrees at culmination, barely clearing the treetops, when observed from my dark sky site outside Flagstaff. Yet, the view is remarkable.
The sketch at left does not do this celestial masterpiece justice. It is based on the view in my 10-inch Newtonian at 36X. Omega Centauri appears nearly one full degree in diameter. That's twice the size of M22 and nearly three-times the size of M13. Stars are resolved to the core. If an object exists for which the description, "like diamond dust against black velvet," is not cliche, this is the one. My first view of this showpiece still ranks among the top observing experiences in my life. Before you die, do whatever it takes to see Omega Centauri.
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Revised: March 5, 2002 [WDF]