The Wild Duck Cluster -- M11
Open Cluster
M 11, NGC 6705, Melotte 213, Collinder 391, OCL 76
Magnitude: 6.1
Diameter: 13'
Distance: 5500 ly
Age: 200 Myr

Minimum requirements to view: any telescope under urban skies


The Wild Duck has long been one of my favorite open clusters. It is located in the beautiful Scutum star cloud, surrounded by one of the most dense star fields in the sky. Many clusters would be lost in such star studded glory, but M11 stands out clearly. According to Burnham's it was Rev. Wm. Derham of England who first resolved the cluster into stars in 1732. It was Admiral Smyth who noted that the main group of brighter stars resemble "a flight of wild ducks."

Burnham's describes M11 as an "Exceptionally fine galactic star cluster, lying on the north edge of the prominent Scutum Star Cloud, and one of the outstanding objects of its type for telescopes of moderate aperture."

Many of the stars are brighter than 11th magnitude, making for a terrific view in even a 6-inch scope. In smaller instruments or binoculars M11 appears as a hazy spot as bright as a 6th magnitude star and can even be glimpsed as such to the naked eye from a dark location. The first stars to resolve will be those that form a triangular structure--Smyth's wild ducks. A 10-inch scope will reveal at least 500 stars here splashed about in spectacular fashion.


The field in a 6-inch at 50x. North is down and east is to the right.
 
Millennium Star Atlas Vol III Chart 1104
Sky Atlas 2000 Chart 9
Uranometria 2000 Vol I Chart 86

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