The Great Cluster in the constellation Hercules is one of the sights those with telescopes search for at this time of year. The eye has difficulty picking it out, but – as shown in this telescopic image from Ido at Bareket Observatory – the cluster is actually a vast symmetrical star city. It contains some 300,000 stars.
This object is a globular star cluster, one of our galaxy’s oldest inhabitants. In other words, as our Milky Way galaxy was forming, globular star clusters are thought to have been among the first things to form.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.