M53

M53

Messier 53 or M53 (also designated NGC 5024) is a globular cluster in the constellation Coma Berenices. It has an apparent visual magnitude of 7.6 and its angular diameter is 12.6 arc-minutes. M53 lies at an estimated distance of 59,700 light years. The Equinox 2000 coordinates are RA= 13h 12.9m, Dec= +18° 10´ which makes M53 best seen during the spring. The Messier Spring Star Chart shows the position of all Messier objects visible during that season.

The image above shows the uncropped view of M53 through the Takahashi E-180 Astrograph (North is up). The bright star 42 Alpha Comae Berenices appears 1 degree to the southwest. The small, loose globular cluster NGC 5053 is visible one degree to the southeast. A 3x enlargement of this image centered on M53 appears to the right.

In spite of its inclusion in the Messier Catalog, this globular cluster was actually discovered by J. E. Bode in 1775. According to Recio-Blanco et al.(2005), the distance of M53 is 61,270 light years making it one of the more distant globulars of the Milky Way Galaxy. Its diameter is about 230 light years. The estimated mass of M53 is 750,000 solar masses and it contains 67 variable stars.

For more information, see the Messier Catalog as well as specific entries for M53 in Wikipedia and SEDS.

Messier's Description of M53

February 26, 1777
`Nebula without stars discovered below and near Coma Berenices, a little distant from the star 42 in that constellation, according to Flamsteed. This nebula is round and conspicuous. The Comet of 1779 was compared directly with this nebula, and M. Messier has reported it on the chart of that comet, which will be included in the volume of the Academy for 1779. Reviewed on April 13, 1781: It resembles the nebula which is below Lepus (M79).'

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