NGC 6384 – Oph

NGC 6384 in Ophiucus

NGC 6384 in Ophiucus

There are so many galaxies out there that often you learn of a new, outstanding one while reading a paper, a book or surfing the web.

One of my most preferred readings is the old Burnham’s Celestial Handbook, one of the most important astronomical books ever published. The author, Robert Burnham, Jr., worked at Flagstaff Observatory (the same where Clyde Tombaugh was when he discovered Pluto) and managed to make this titanic effort, putting together a huge amount of information about many different astronomical objects. Of course, in the 50 years or so since the Handbook saw its light we had many other books of that kind, but the work by Burnham is still unmatched.

I use to surf its pages while I’m doing science with my telescopes, to see if there is some special object around I can enjoy in case I will have some spare time. The Handbook never fails inspiring me. A few nights ago, while I was doing some optical follow-up of possible supernovae, I checked the Handbook for the Ophiuchus constellation, well knows for its superb globular clusters Messier 10 and Messier 12.

Ophiuchus is in a rich part of the sky, not far from the star-dense Milky Way, a place where – in principle -you would not expect a stunning outer galaxy. But the Handbook had a surprise for me, listing the barred spiral galaxy NGC 6384 and providing a nice, old  image of it grabbed with the 13-inch telescope Clyde Tombaugh used to discover Pluto! That cosmic island is suspended in space and time at 60 millions of light years from us.

I immediately decided to have a look. and my first quick image showed it was a a nice interval.

This image above comes from the average of 12, 400-seconds exposures, unfiltered, remotely collected with the  PlaneWave 17″+Paramount ME+SBIG STL-6303E robotic unit part of the Virtual Telescope Project. Binning 2×2, with a resulting scale of 1.2″/pixel.

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