I always liked star clusters set against the stars of the Milky Way, and Messier 56 globular cluster is a perfect example of it. M56 is neither large nor bright but was big enough to be discovered by Charles Messier on January 19, 1779, and he provided that note about it:

Nebula without stars, having little light

On the same day, Messier discovered the comet of 1779. Five years later William Herschel resolved M56 globular cluster into stars. He described it as a “globular cluster of very compressed small stars about 4 or 5 minutes in diameter”.  M56 is a hard target for binoculars, however, its location is easy to describe: it lies between Albireo star and M57 Ring nebula, closer to Albireo star. Due to its location at the Milky Way star field, it is a very pleasant target for larger instruments.

Messier 56 spans about 85 light years in diameter. It is moving towards Earth at 145 kilometers per second and lies about 33 thousand light years away.

I captured the image below in June 2021 in my backyard observatory. Due to its compact size, Messier 56 requires good conditions to resolve it into the stars. A larger aperture is also welcome. Probably the finest image of this cluster has been captured by Hubble Space Telescope (of course 🙂 )

M56 globular cluster in Lyra
M56 globular cluster in Lyra
Image technical data:

Date: 5 June, 2021
Location: Nieborowice, Poland
Telescope: Meade ACF 10" f/10
Corrector: AP CCDT67
Camera: QHY163M
Mount: SW EQ6
Guiding: GPCAM 224C + SW ED72
Exposure: LRGB 140x1 minutes
Conditions: Bortle 6, transparency good, seeing medium-good