Popular Astronomy

April 2016

  The poor weather conditions during April defeated most of the section's regular contributors;  there are just 5 images to showcase in this report, all from SPA membership secretary Ian Papworth.

Ian's first image, below left, is of the "sombrero" galaxy M104 in the constellation of Virgo.  It is noted for a large, bright central core and a lane of dust, which, silhouetted against the bulge of stars, gives rise to its popular name.  To the right is M3, a globular cluster in Canes Venatici;  one of the largest and brightest, it has an apparent magnitude of 6.2 and an angular size of about 12 arc minutes in diameter.                                                                                                                                                                          

                                                                                            The next images, from below left, clockwise, are of spiral galaxies M66 and M88 (2 images).  M66 is in the constellation of Leo, M88 in Coma Berenices.  M66 is part of the well known Leo trio, along with M65 and NGC 3628:  M66 has interacted with the latter galaxy in the past, giving rise to unusual spiral arm and dust lane structures and its designation as Arp 16 in the catalogue of peculiar galaxies.  M88 is classified as a type 2 Seyfert, having highly ionized gas in its nucleus, which contains a supermassive black hole.                                                                                                                           


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