SEE THE GAL­AX­IES

Sky at Night Magazine - - THE VIRGO GALAXIES -

Although none of the gal­ax­ies we’ve cov­ered here are vis­i­ble to the naked eye, sev­eral, such as M104 (the Sombrero Galaxy) and M51 (the Whirlpool Galaxy), are fine sights through am­a­teur tele­scopes. If you’ve never ob­served a dis­tant galaxy through a tele­scope be­fore, you’ll soon re­alise why many as­tronomers af­fec­tion­ately re­fer to deep-sky ob­jects as faint fuzzies. It’s a de­scrip­tion that sums up rather well the view of many gal­ax­ies through the eyepiece of a mod­est am­a­teur tele­scope: a faint, fuzzy blob. That’s not to say there aren’t brighter ex­am­ples that show more struc­ture or in­ter­est­ing fea­tures, such as M104’s dark bar, though. As with many ce­les­tial ob­jects the key to see­ing more de­tail is to get away from light pol­lu­tion and use a larger aper­ture tele­scope. If you don’t have one then pay a visit to your lo­cal as­tro­nom­i­cal so­ci­ety ob­serv­ing evening or star party dur­ing the galaxy sea­sons of spring and au­tumn. These events of­ten pro­vide ac­cess to largeaper­ture in­stru­ments.

The au­thor’s sketch of M104, its dark bar clearly vis­i­ble

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