Messier 56 or M56 (also designated NGC 6779) is a globular cluster in the constellation Lyra. It has an apparent visual magnitude of 8.3 and its angular diameter is 7.1 arc-minutes. M56 lies at an estimated distance of 32,900 light years. The Equinox 2000 coordinates are RA= 19h 16.6m, Dec= +30° 11´ which makes M56 best seen during the summer. The Messier Summer Star Chart shows the position of all Messier objects visible during that season.

The image above shows the uncropped view of M56 through the Takahashi E-180 Astrograph (North is to right). A 3x enlargement of this image appears to the right.

This globular cluster was discovered by Messier in 1779 although he could not resolve it into individual stars. According to Recio-Blanco et al.(2005), the distance of M56 is 27,390 light years and its diameter is 55 light years. Its estimated mass is 200,000 solar masses and it contains 14 variable stars.

For more information, see the Messier Catalog as well as specific entries for M56 in Wikipedia and SEDS.

Messier's Description of M56

January 23, 1779
`Nebula without stars, having little light; M. Messier discovered it on the same day as he found the comet of 1779, January 19. On the 23rd, he determined its position by comparing it with the star 2 Cygni, according to Flamsteed: it is near the Milky Way; and close to it is a star of 10th magnitude. M. Messier reported it on the chart of the comet of 1779.'

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