M62 is a magnitude +6.5 globular cluster in the constellation of Ophiuchus, right at the border with Scorpius. It's positioned close to the Milky Way centre, which may be the reason why it's one of the most irregular shaped globulars known. At a distance of only 6,100 light-years from the galactic centre, this cluster is subject to large deforming tidal forces. From Earth, it's considerably further away at 22,200 light-years.

M62 was discovered by Charles Messier on June 7, 1771. However, he didn't accurately measure its position until 1779 when including it in his catalogue. William Herschel first resolved the object into stars, describing it as a miniature version of M3. Finding M62 can be challenging since there are no bright stars positioned nearby. One method is to imagine a right angle triangle consisting of Antares (α Sco - mag. +1.0) and epsilon Scorpii (ε Sco - mag. +2.3) with M62 at the third corner. Antares is 7.5 degrees northwest of M62 with ε Scorpii 4.75 degrees to the southwest.

M62 is visible with binoculars as a faint small fuzzy ball of light. However, since it's located among the rich Milky Way starfields it can be easily missed. The cluster is best seen from tropical and Southern Hemisphere locations during the months of May, June and July. For mid-latitude Northern Hemisphere observers, it's a tricky object that doesn't rise particularly high above the southern horizon and therefore never well placed. Positioned 4.5 degrees north of M62 is the slightly fainter but larger globular cluster M19 (mag. +7.2).

M62 globular cluster by the Hubble Space Telescope (credit:- NASA, The Hubble Heritage Team (AURA/STScI))

Finder Chart for M62 (credit:- freestarcharts)

Finder Chart for M62 - pdf format (credit:- freestarcharts)

Finder Chart for M6 (also shown M4, M7, M8, M19, M28, M62 and M69) (credit:- freestarcharts)

Finder Chart for M6 (also shown M4, M7, M8, M19, M28, M62 and M69) - pdf format (credit:- freestarcharts)

When viewed through an 80mm (3.1-inch) telescope, M62 appears as a diffuse ball of light with a bright core. On nights of good seeing and transparency, a 200mm (8-inch) scope at medium to high magnifications will begin to resolve the outer edges. Also noticeable is the oval shape of the cluster, with the long axis orientated in the north-south direction. The centre of the globular appears condensed and more compact than its neighbour, M19. In addition, averted vision helps, but larger size amateur scopes are required for better resolution and deeper views.

In total, M62 covers 15 arc minutes of sky, which corresponds to a spatial diameter 96 light-years. Visually it appears smaller at about 8 to 10 arc minutes. This globular contains a high number of variable stars of which at least 89 are know, many of them of the RR Lyrae type. It's also likely that at some point in its history it has undergone a core collapse, similar to M15, M30 and M70.

M62 Data Table

Object TypeGlobular cluster
Distance (light-years)22,200
Apparent Mag.+6.8
RA (J2000)17h 01m 12.5s
DEC (J2000)-30d 06m 44s
Apparent Size (arc mins)15 x 15
Radius (light-years)48
Age (years)11.78 Billion
Number of Stars150,000
Notable FeaturesVery irregular in shape. Contains a high number of variable stars (at least 89)

Sky Highlights - July 2017

The Planets
This Month's Guide

Algol Minima
Algol eclipse dates and times for July

Meteor Shower
Southern Delta Aquariids (Aquarids) meteor shower peaks on July 29

Northern Hemisphere
West:- Mercury (mag. -0.5 to +0.3) (second half of month)
Southwest:- Jupiter (mag. -2.0)
South:- Saturn (mag. +0.2)
West:- Jupiter
South:- Saturn
East:- Neptune (mag. +7.8)
Southwest:- Saturn
South:- Neptune
Southeast:- Uranus (mag. +5.8)
East:- Venus (mag. -4.1)

Southern Hemisphere
West:- Mercury (second half of month)
Northwest:- Jupiter
East:- Saturn
West:- Jupiter
North:- Saturn
East:- Neptune
West:- Saturn
North:- Neptune
Northeast:- Venus, Uranus

Deep Sky

Small telescopes:-
Messier 13 - M13 - Great Hercules Globular Cluster
Messier 92 - M92 - Globular Cluster
Messier 11 - M11 - The Wild Duck Cluster (Open Cluster)
Messier 7 - M7 - The Ptolemy Cluster (Open Cluster)
Messier 6 - M6 - The Butterfly Cluster (Open Cluster)
Messier 4 - M4 - Globular Cluster
Messier 8 - M8 - Lagoon Nebula (Emission Nebula)
Messier 16 - M16 - Eagle Nebula (Emission Nebula with Open Cluster)
Messier 20 - M20 - Trifid Nebula (Emission and Reflection Nebula)

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