How to Find Messier 3

How to find Messier 3 

M3 LRGB 891x674.jpg

Messier 3 is a fantastic, bright and large globular cluster. This is just visible to the naked eye under really dark skies, but can be easily seen with binoculars.

Messier 3 or NGC 5272 is a real gem. This is one of the often overlooked beautiful globular clusters. It can be easily seen in binoculars. The difficult part is locating the dim near constellations of Canes Venatici, to which this cluster officially belongs and Coma Berenices. This cluster was discovered by Charles Messier on May 3rd 1764. It is found about  34,000 light years away and contains around 500,000 stars. One of the biggest and brightest globular clusters in the northern hemisphere and should not be missed.

Image by: Robert J. Vanderbei.

Other Names:


Messier 3

NGC 5272

Telescopic Image to Scale:


This image is the size of a full moon for size comparison.


Magnitude = 6.3

Surface brightness = 11

Telescope Aperture City Suburbs Rural Dark Sky
4 inches 9 10 11 12.5
5 inches 9.5 10.5 11.5 13
6 inches 10 11 12 13.5
8 inches 10.5 11.5 12.5 14
10 inches 11 12 13 14.5

Use this chart to estimate if you can see the object from your location with your telescope. For more help on using this chart click here.

How to Find It:

Although officially part of the Canes Venatici constellation. Messier 3 is best found by looking half way between the bright star of Arcturus in Bootes and the brighter of the main stars Cor Caroli in Canes Venatici. The image below demonstrates it's position. It's co-ordinates are: RA 12h 07m 08.82 DEC +39° 08′ 26.1″ if you are using guiding software.


Image by: Roberto Mura

Alternatively, if you can see the dim constellation of Coma Berenices, Messier 3 can be found using the map below.

How to find Messier 3

To find more space objects have a look at the constellation guide by clicking the link or go back to the list of deep space objects.

 Privacy policy and cookies | Disclaimer | Contact Us | Credits | Resources | Site Map © 2012-2014