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NGC 5904 (13,012 of 18,816)


oc gc pln bn dn gx gxcl ast aka lost




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Messier 5

NGC 5904, Cl Melotte 133, C 1516+022, GCl 34, Messier 5, h 1916, GC 4083

RA: 15h 18m 33.75s
Dec: +02° 04′ 57.7″

Con: Serpens
Ch: MSA:765, U2:244, SA:14

Ref: SIMBAD, Archinal&Hynes (2003), SEDS

(reference key)

Type: globular cluster

Mag: B=?, V=5.7

Size: 23′
PA: ?

History and Accurate Positions for the NGC/IC Objects (Corwin 2004)

NGC 5904 = M 5. See NGC 5897 and IC 4540.

Historical observations

Gottfried Kirch

Discovered by Gottfried Kirch (1702 May 05), Berlin, Germany.

William Herschel (c.1784)

In the Philosophical Transactions, 1814, William Herschel wrote "May 27, 1791. 40 feet telescope, power 370. The 5th of the Connoissance des Temps is a beautiful cluster of stars; I counted about 200 of them; but the middle of it is so compressed that it is impossible to distinguish the stars." In the Philosophical Transactions, 1818, William Herschel wrote: "1813, 7 feet finder. It is near a star of equal brightness; the star is clear but the object is hazy. 1783, 7 feet telescope. It consists of stars; they are however so small that I can but just perceive some, and suspect others. 1810, the globular figure is visible. 1783, 10 feet telescope. With 600 power, all resolved into stars. 1785, 1786, 20 feet telescope. A very compressed cluster of stars, 7 or 8' in diameter, the greatest compression about 2 or 2.5' 1791, 40 feet telescope. with 370 power O counted about 200 stars, the middle of it is so compressed that it is impossible to distinguish the stars."

Published comments

Barnard, E.E. (1906)

On the Vacant Regions of the Sky. Popular Astronomy, 14, 579-583.


Brief note of dark nebulae visible in M5 (p 580)

Doig, P. (1925)

Doig, P. (1925) Notes on the nebulae and clusters in Webb's 'Celestial Objects for Common Telescopes' (Sixth edition, Vol.ii). Part II. M.N.R.A.S., 35(8), 280.

Melotte, P.J. (1915)

A catalogue of star clusters shown on Franklin-Adams chart plates. Mem.R.A.S., 60(5), 175-186.

Sanford (1989) Observing the Constellations

Sanford calls this a "wonderful globular cluster ... easily found near the star 5 Serpentis, only 22' away. ... The cluster begins to resolve with a 3-inch aperture and is a glorious ball of stars when fully resolved."

Harris, W.E. (1997)

RA 15 18 33.8 (2000) Dec +02 04 58 Integrated V magnitude 5.65 Central surface brightness, V magnitudes per square arcsecond 16.05 Integrated spectral type F7 Central concentration, c = log(r_total/r_core); a 'c' denotes a core-collapsed cluster 1.87 Core radius in arcmin .40. ["Catalog Of Parameters For Milky Way Globular Clusters", compiled by William E. Harris, McMaster University. (Revised: May 15, 1997; from http://www.physics.mcmaster.ca/Globular.html; Harris, W.E. 1996, AJ, 112, 1487) ]

Sulentic & Tifft (1973)

The RNGC (Sulentic and Tifft 1973) notes that this is a 7.0 mag globular cluster.

Bailey, S.I. (1908)

"!! globular cluster, condensed"

Bailey, S.I. (1908) A catalogue of bright stars and nebulae. Ann.Harv.Coll.Obs., 60(8), 199.

Remarks, p.217: "an interesting globular cluster, similar to 5272, containing 85 known variable stars."

Modern observations

Walter Scott Houston

Houston notes that this globular cluster can be seen on an excellent night with the naked eye. "Telescopically, it appears as a glowing ball 12' in diameter, with the edges broken down into individual stars . . . my 10-inch at 300x revealed stars scattered all across the cluster's disk."

Sweetman, Michael E. (1992)

Michael Sweetman (Tucson, Arizona, USA) observing with a 6-inch refractor, writes in the The Webb Society Nebulae and Clusters Section Report No. 10, July 1992: "Very nice at x48, with a very bright inner core and a bright outer core surrounding it. The core has a mottled texture with bright clumps of stars. Outer envelope is very large and resolves into a blanket of stars. The background is slightly hazy and the effect increases towards the centre. Has a very large envelope in proportion to the core size. At x204, many irregularities observed in the outer envelope; some small arcs of stars appear to the N.p. to S.f. direction. On the N.f. side of the inner core, numeorus bright individual stars show. The envelope shows a more uniform distribution on the S.f. sides, while on the N.p. side it appears smaller with more irregularities in the envelope. Beside the dark rift the core is rather uniform."

Harrington, Phil (1986)

Harrington, P. (1986) More globulars for observers. Sky&Telescope, Sep, 310.

On a clear dark night .. can be seen with the naked eye about 8deg southwest of Alpha Serpentis. A 4inch and possibly even a 3inch will reveals M5s true nature.

Tom Lorenzin

Tom Lorenzin, in the e-version of "1000+ The Amateur Astronomers' Field Guide to Deep Sky Observing", notes: "6.2M; 13' diameter; naked eye beauty! easily resolved at 100x; not quite round with extension to SW; look for the cluster's brightest star on the near fringe, about 1' SE of the core; DBL ST 5 SER (11.2" separation; 5-10M) 22' SSE of M-5's core."

Ware, Donald J

"One of my favorite globular clusters. It is 10-12' in diameter, well resolved almost to it center. Composed of relatively bright stars, the outer region of seems to swirl in arcs. With a little imagination, one can envision it as a spiral galaxy seen face on. Spend some time on this one."

Steve Coe

Steve Coe, observing with a 13" f/5.6, notes: "(M 5) Bright, large, round and much, much brighter in the middle at 220X. There are a few dark areas and many beautiful chains of stars. I counted 57 stars in the Northwest quadrant. This lovely globular has always been a favorite."

Danie L. Cronje


Danie Cronje, observing with 10x50 binoculars, calls it "large, quite bright. Centre extended but not very bright. Next to a bright star."

Contemporary observations

Auke Slotegraaf


This bright globular cluster in Serpens is a most interesting sight through the 15.5-inch as it seems quite small. This is so because most of the cluster is resolved, except for the nucleus. In this regard it reminds one of Omega Centauri, but on Omega's scale this globular is tiny. There is no particularly prominent feature or distinguishing shape in this globular, although the nucleus appears lob-sided, growing brighter towards the north.

Tom Bryant

2007-06-06 22:00:00

Observing site: Little Tycho Observatory

Telescope: C-8

[15h 18m 36s, 2 5m 0s] A most glorious Globular cluster, even when viewed in the light pollution of my backyard. Approximately 30-50 stars were visible with direct vision, and hundreds with averted vision.

2007-05-11 22:00:00

Observing site: Little Tycho Observatory

Telescope: C-8

[15h 18m 36s, 2 5m 0s] A dazzler, as always. Wow! This old globular has some unexpectedly bright blue stars in it.

Magda Streicher

2010 June 7

Location: Polokwane

16-inch f/10 SCT (127x 290x)

Just beautiful with about all the qualities of a true globular. A central star made the core denser seems pin-point. Dark patches and lanes as well as short faint strings on the outskirts. Very rich my guess will be well over 200 stars. The edges appear like a embroidery master piece with pin-point faint stars. The globular could be slightly oval in a north-east to south-west direction. A faint string somewhat more outstanding runs out on the northern edge towards a hazy patch. IC 4537 is just past the outskirts east of the cluster and first seen as a faint unresolved knot of haze.

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Lacaille's catalogue

The Messier objects

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