Globular Cluster Messier 72

Messier 72
Messier 72: Image taken with the Hubble Space Telescope. © ESA/Hubble & NASA [245]


The globular cluster was discovered by Pierre Méchain on the night of August 29th to 30th, 1780 and again visited and confirmed by Charles Messier on the night of October 4th to 5th. He described it as «faintly shining like the previous one [M 71] with a small star next to it.» [196, 281]

Physical Properties

M 72 is 17 kpc (55'500 light years) from Earth and 12.9 kpc (47'000 light years) from the galactic center. It has the mass of 168'000 suns. [148, 251]

Revised+Historic NGC/IC Version 22/9, © 2022 Dr. Wolfgang Steinicke [277]
Designation NGC 6981
Type GCL (IX)
Right Ascension (J2000.0) 20h 53m 27.9s
Declination (J2000.0) -12° 32' 11"
Diameter 6.6 arcmin
Visual magnitude 9.2 mag
Metric Distance 17.000 kpc
Dreyer Description globular, pB, pL, R, gmCM, rrr
Identification, Remarks h 2090; GC 4608; M 72; GCL 118

Finder Chart

M 72 is located in the constellation Aquarius. On the line between the stars Albali (ε Aquarii) and θ Capricorni, it lies roughly in the first third. About 1° 20' east of it is the small star group M 73. The best observation time is July to December.

Finder Chart Globular Cluster Messier 72
Globular Cluster Messier 72 in constellation Aquarius. Charts created using SkySafari 6 Pro and STScI Digitized Sky Survey. Limiting magnitudes: Constellation chart ~6.5 mag, DSS2 close-ups ~20 mag. [149, 160]

Objects Within a Radius of 20°