Popular Astronomy

April 2017

A combination of poor weather and lighter evenings has taken its toll this month, with just two section members sending in four images.

David Davies of Cambridge used an APM 107mm APO refractor plus QSI 583 camera and filters to capture the image on the right, of the Leo Triplet (galaxies M65, M66 and NGC3628).  This group of interacting galaxies is about 35 million light years from the Earth.  M66 is to the top right of this image, and is the biggest and brightest of the three at around 95,000 light years in diameter.  M65 to the top left is slightly more inclined to our line of sight and NGC3628 is edge - on to us, and shows a warped disc:  clear evidence of past interactions with its neighbours and there is a faint tail of material from this galaxy 300,000 light years  long.                    


Steve Norrie of Fife sent in three images of galaxies, all spirals in the constellation of Ursa Major.  Below left is M51, the Whirlpool galaxy, and to the right M101, the Pinwheel galaxy.


Steve's third image, right, is of M81, also known as

Bode's galaxy;  and is about 12 million light years from the Earth.  M81 is the biggest galaxy in the M81 group of 34 galaxies.

M81 and its neighbours M82 and NGC3077 (not in this image) are gravitationally bound so could be considered a "triplet" similar to the Leo triplet described above.  Vigorous new star formation observed in M82 and NGC3077 is a direct result of these gravitational encounters.  Steve used an ES 127mm APO refractor and a Starlight Xpress

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