May 30 – Messier 12

1764  –  Discovery of globular cluster Messier 12 (NGC 6218) by Charles Messier.

Messier 12 from the Hubble Space Telescope (image credit: NASA / STScl / ESA)

Messier 12 from the Hubble Space Telescope (image credit: NASA / STScl / ESA)

M12 is approximately 75 light years across, at a distance from Earth of about 15,700 light years.  It can be located as a faint fuzz in the constellation Ophiuchus with good binoculars, but needs a fairly hefty telescope to bring out detail.


Extrasolar planet MOA-2007-BLG-192Lb (or just MOA-192b to its friends) was discovered orbiting the low mass red dwarf of the same name (but without the “b”) on May 30, 2008. Spotted by the MOA-II gravitational microlensing survey, it is one of the smaller known extrasolar planets (about 3 times the mass of Earth) and has an appropriately tiny parent star of about 6% the size of the Sun.


1903 – Asteroid 511 Davida discovered in 1903 by R S Dugan and named after astronomer David Peck Todd.


2007 – Saturn’s tiny moon Anthe was first spotted in Cassini images. Anthe may be part of a dynamical family with the moons Methone and Pallene.  This is appropriate if true, as they were sisters in mythology, three of the Alkyonides, who threw themselves into the sea when their father was killed by Herakles.


1963 – Happy birthday Helen Sharman, OBE, Sheffield native, chocolate chemist and first Briton in space.  She flew on Soyuz flight TM-12 to the Mir space station.  It was her only mission.


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