M11: Scutum’s Milky-Way Treasure

M11 finder chart

The Scutum Star Cloud and M11 are prime, dark-sky attractions.

Summer new Moons are what deep-sky observers live for. Overhead, the glowing band of the Milky Way stretches from horizon to horizon. There’s so much to see that it can be tough to choose! One area that I find particularly eye-catching is the Scutum Star Cloud.

Scutum itself isn’t much of a constellation, which is why it’s easier to think of this region as the tail end of Aquila, the eagle. The Star Cloud is a conspicuous five-degree-wide blob of Milky Way that rewards inspection with binoculars. Situated near its northern edge lies one of the summer sky’s most striking sights: M11, the Wild Duck cluster. It’s an interesting binocular sight for sure, but the cluster really comes into its own in telescope, which has the power to resolve M11 into individual stars. Leading the flock is a magnitude-8 star on the cluster’s southeast edge. Try different magnifications. M11 looks great at low power, set in its rich star field, but it’s also pretty when you pile on the magnification and zoom in. Like many deep-sky targets, each view shows you something a little different.

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