Messier 80

Visible From Pacific NorthwestMarch To July
Best Time To ObserveMay
Minimum Size Of Viewing DeviceSmall Telescope
Object TypeGlobular Cluster
DesignationsMessier 80, M80, NGC 6093, GCl 39, C 1614-228, MWSC 2376
Right Ascension16h 17m 02.41s
Number Of StarsMore Than 200,000
Apparent magnitude +7.87
Apparent dimensions 10′
Object Radius48 light years
Distance From Earth32,600 light years


The cluster was discovered by Charles Messier on January 4, 1781, who would then add the cluster to his catalogue.

William Herschel was able to resolve M80 into individual stars before 1785. After seeing it in his 20-foot telescope, he described M80 as a “globular cluster of extremely minute and very compressed stars of about 3 or 4 minutes in diameter; very gradually much brighter in the middle; towards the circumference the stars are distinctly seen, and are the smallest imaginable.”

ohn Herschel catalogued the cluster as h 3624 and later included it in the General Catalogue as GC 4173, describing it as “magnificent; globular cluster; very bright; large; very much brighter toward the middle (where there is a variable star); well resolved; stars of 14th magnitude.” 

Locating M80 In The Sky

Messier 80 is pretty easy to find as it lies about halfway between the bright stars Antares, Alpha Scorpii, and Akrab (Graffias), Beta Scorpii.

It is located 4 degrees to the northwest of Antares, in the same region of the sky as Messier 4, another globular cluster in Scorpius.

Messier 80

Viewing M80

It can be seen in small and medium-sized telescopes, which show a fuzzy ball of light. 8-inch telescopes show the cluster’s bright nucleus and extended halo, and larger instruments are required to resolve individual stars in the cluster. 12-inch telescopes will reveal the brightest members.

Photographing M80

To photograph Messier 80, it is recommended to utilize a larger telescope with autoguiding. It is possible to utilize a DSLR to image M80 as shown below, as the use of filters can help bring out the detail. With the lack of detailed blog posts, it is recommended to find specific details on cloudynights and astrobin.

Sources And Further Reading

Descriptions of all of Messier Objects can be found here.

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