Credits: Keith Turnecliff, Nerja, Spain
M21, also designated NGC 6531, is an open cluster of stars in the constellation of Sagittarius. It was discovered and catalogued by Charles Messier on June 5, 1764. This cluster is relatively young and tightly packed. A few blue giant stars have been identified in the cluster, but Messier 21 is composed mainly of small dim stars. With a magnitude of 6.5, M21 is not visible to the naked eye; however, with the smallest binoculars it can be easily spotted on a dark night. The cluster is positioned near the Trifid nebula (NGC 6514), but is not associated with that nebulosity.
Facts about M21 by Keith Turnecliff
At a distance of 4,250 light years from Earth, this group of 57 various magnitude stars all started life together about 4.6 million years ago as part of the Sagittarius OB1 stellar association. What makes this fairly loose collection of stars rather prized is its youth as a cluster, and the variation of age in its stellar members. Main sequence stars are easy enough to distinguish in a group, but low mass stars are a different story when it comes to separating them from older cluster members.