The Citizens of Bernalwood are glamorous and rather vain, but we take great pride in our neighborly inclusiveness. That welcoming spirit applies to Bernal Heights residents new and old, as well as alien life forms from far-distant galaxies.
Clifton Reed, the newly appointed Chief of Astronomical Research for BASA — the Bernal Aeronautics and Space Administration — recently conducted a series of deep space observations from his backyard observatory in Bernal Heights. Neighbor Clifton focused his attention on the M13 galaxy, which is summering high above the night skies of Bernal, more than 100 light-years from here.
Of course, there are those who worry about the potential gentrifying effect that M13 may have in Bernal Heights. A few old-timers in Cortlandia have been heard to grumble, “When M13 arrives, Starbucks is never far behind!” But in the spirit of promoting neighborly ties, Neighbor Clifton brings this message from the Bernalwood-M13 Friendship Committee:
Bernal Heights Observatory
Observed M13, The Great Cluster in Hercules, on Saturday, 9 June 2012, 20:35 hrs. PST.
Explanation: Discovered by Edmund Halley in 1764, Messier 13 or M13 is a globular cluster in the constellation Hercules. It’s visible from Bernal Heights throughout the summer, although it’s dim (Apparent Magnitude 5.8) and hard to find in our light polluted paradise. BTW, it’s the faintest object that I’ve managed to observe from Bernal Heights so far. You may have a shot at it with a decent pair of binoculars. However, it will only appear as a dim smudge and make you go racing for the nearest Hubble image. Even with a telescope, it still takes the sensitivity of a digital camera to observe any detail in the sky above San Francisco.
Globular clusters are ancient star-forming regions and are often found around galactic centers; They are some of the most ancient objects in the cosmos. How many worlds or civilizations maybe orbiting around those stars? M13 is situated 139 million light years from the top of Bernal Hill. It has a diameter of 145 light years and contains hundreds of thousands of stars. Its estimated age is 2.68 X 108 years.
This is your local Bernal Heights amateur astronomer, wishing you clear skies.
For information on organized star parties and astronomy events, please visit the San Francisco Amateur Astronomers (SFAA).
PHOTO: Our neighbor M13, by Clifton Reed