Messier 11 Wild Duck Cluster

Messier 11 Wild Duck Cluster

Of the 26 open clusters included in the Messier catalog, Messier 11, the Wild Duck Cluster is the most distant that can be seen with the naked eye. The best time to spot the cluster is in August. M11 is one of the most densely populated open clusters known. 

Visible From Pacific NorthwestJune, July, August and September
Best Time To ObserveAugust
Minimum Size Of Viewing DeviceNaked Eye
Object TypeOpen Cluster
DesignationsMessier 11, M11, Wild Duck Cluster, NGC 6705, Collinder 391, C 1848-063, Melotte 213
Right Ascension18h 51.1m
Declination -06°16′ 
Number Of Stars2900
Apparent magnitude +6.3
Apparent dimensions 14′
Object Radius25 light years
Distance From Earth6,200 light years 


Messier 11 was discovered by the German astronomer Gottfried Kirch, director of the Berlin Observatory, in 1681.

English astronomer William Derham was the first to resolve the cluster into stars around 1733.

Charles Messier added the cluster to his catalogue on May 30, 1764. Swiss-American astronomer Robert Julius Trumpler would help classify the  properties of the cluster of M11.

Locating M11 In The Sky

To star-hop to the M11 Wild Duck Cluster, first of all find Altair, the brightest star in Aquila the Eagle, and the second brightest star in the Summer Triangle. Altair is rather easy to identify, because it’s flanked on each side by the two moderately bright stars, Tarazed and Alshain.

Viewing M11

Messier 11 can be seen without binoculars and appears as a faint patch of light above the southern horizon for observers in the northern hemisphere. The brighter members of the cluster form a V-shaped triangle that could be said to resemble a flock of ducks when observed in a small telescope, which is how M11 got its name.

Photographing M11

Photographing M11 is a great opportunity for new astrophotographers to practice photographing globular clusters before turning to more complex targets. Not only can this be done with a DSLR, but requires precise tracking or else the stars in the cluster will become blurry. Guides say that 2-3 minute photo exposure is recommended.

Sources And Further Reading

Descriptions of all of Messier Objects be found here.

Be the first to comment on "Messier 11 Wild Duck Cluster"

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.