Towards Coma Berenices, a tiny constellation between the handle of the Big Dipper and the haunches of the constellation Leo, the Lion, lies in a tiny expanse of sky an assembly of some of the most distant galaxies visible in a backyard telescope. These are the members of the Coma Cluster of Galaxies, a group of more than 1,000 big galaxies located so far away, their starlight left well before the first dinosaurs walked the Earth [Read more…] about The Coma Cluster of GalaxiesShare This:
An automated telescope on Haleakala in Hawaii spotted an exploding massive star in M66, a spiral galaxy in the constellation Leo. It appears to be a Type II supernova, the result of a massive star that has run out of fuel and suddenly collapsed and snapped back against the subatomic forces at play in its core. Like all supernovae, this star is blasting out nearly as much energy as all the other stars in the galaxy, albeit for just a few days [Read more…] about New Supernova in Galaxy Messier 66Share This:
The constellation Leo is stuffed with galaxies that are visible in a backyard telescope. Three of the brightest and best known are M65, M66, and NGC 3628, also known as the “Leo Triplet”. You can see all three galaxies in virtually any telescope and even in a good pair of binoculars. If you can see all three galaxies at once, keep in mind you’re seeing at one time the collected light of more than half a trillion stars [Read more…] about Galaxy Tour: The Leo TripletShare This:
The tiny northern constellation Triangulum contains the gorgeous face-on spiral galaxy Messier 33, also known as the Triangulum Galaxy. A photogenic target for expert astrophotographers, the Triangulum Galaxy is a next-door neighbor of our Milky Way Galaxy and the most distant object you can see with your unaided eye. As you can see in the above image by Terry Hancock and Ron Brecher, the spiral arms of M33 are festooned with pink star-forming nebulae. The largest, NGC 604, is some 100x the size of the Orion nebula and hosts more than 200 massive stars at its center.
The spiral arms of M33 are loosely bound, and the galaxy is a type-Sc spiral using Hubble’s galaxy classification system. The galaxy spans a diameter of 50,000 light years, about half the diameter of the Milky Way. Indeed, M33 belongs to the so-called Local Group of Galaxies which includes the Andromeda Galaxy, the Magellanic Clouds, and our own Milky Way. M33 may itself be a large satellite of the much larger Andromeda galaxy, Messier 31.
(Note: The Triangulum Galaxy is one of the dozens of deep-sky sights featured in The Armchair Astronomer, a collection of astoundingly beautiful images of clouds of gas and dust where new stars are born. If you haven’t yet downloaded this e-book, you can find it here…)
“We and our world are the minutiae and curiosa– galaxies are the grand realities.” -Leland Copeland
This wide-field image of the core of the Virgo cluster reveals several dozen of the more than 2,000 galaxies spread across our sky between the stars Denebola in Leo and Vindemiatrix in Virgo [Read more…] about Panorama of the Virgo ClusterShare This: