30 April 08

Into The Virgo Cluster

Look to the east these spring evenings and you will see a triangle of three bright stars: Arcturus, in the constellation Bootes, Denebola, marking the tail of the lion Leo, and Spica, in the constellation Virgo. In that triangle lies one of the biggest challenges in my Messier big year: navigating the Virgo cluster of galaxies.

This is the nearest big cluster of galaxies, about 60 million light years distant, containing maybe 2000 galaxies total. In dark skies many of these can be seen in a moderately-sized telescope, and it is quite a region for the amateur astronomer to get lost in. In bright skies it is a challenge to see any galaxies at all, and finding the 16 or so galaxies on the Messier list takes effort.

There is about one week left until the moon goes into the evening sky again, so I need to make progress now. Last night I viewed M98, M99, and M100, starhopping east from Denebola. M98 was quite tough, M99 and M100 were faint but evident.

Posted by at 08:57 PM in Astronomy | Link |
  1. I know the summer triangle better than the spring one, but it’d be so neat to have my boys see some of the galaxies there. Clear skies and good viewing to you!

    Teresa    1. May 2008, 08:03    Link

Previous: Next: