the perfect galaxy not in Messier’s listing? – Astronomy Now


NGC 2903 is likely one of the greatest galaxies in the whole sky and is a baffling omission from Charles Messier’s catalogue. Picture: Adam Block.

It’s not typically that one can assert {that a} deep-sky object inside a given constellation that’s with out a Messier tag can, on the very least, rival one which does. Many observers suggest that NGC 2903, an excellent spiral galaxy in Leo that’s a serious spotlight of the spring sky, matches the invoice, matching up effectively to marvellous Messier 66 (NGC 3627) or certainly any of the opposite galaxies, Messier-designated or in any other case, present in Leo.

NGC 2903 requires a merely modest aperture to snare it at its simply to search out location. As soon as discovered, it yields a good diploma of element by way of a moderate-aperture telescope and makes for a improbable imaging goal. NGC 2903 is maybe probably the most notable and perplexing omission from the Frenchman’s ubiquitous catalogue and, as such, is to not be missed.

NGC 2903 is advantageously positioned for observers at mid-northern latitudes, in northern Leo. Search for it simply south of Alterf (lambda [λ] Leonis), the fourth-magnitude star marking the Lion’s mouth on historic star charts.

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The improbable constellation of Leo, the Lion, led by first-magnitude Regulus (alpha [α] Leonis), is on the vanguard of the foremost constellations of the spring sky.

The celebrities that type the Lion’s head, principally magnitude +3 epsilon (ε) Leonis, Rasalas (mu [μ], magazine. +3.9) and Alterf (lambda [λ], magazine. +4.3) hit the southern meridian at 10pm GMT, mid-March. Epsilon and Rasalas additionally type the northernmost part of the curving portion of Leo’s well-known ‘Sickle’ asterism of six stars, together with Regulus and Algieba, which collectively are popularly likened to a backwards query mark. 

NGC 2903 is positioned simply 1.5°south of Alterf and culminates at a really wholesome altitude of round 60°. It may be noticed till about 3am GMT, giving it an general mid-month observing window lasting round seven hours.   

NGC 2903 shines at magnitude +8.9, making it marginally brighter than Messier 65 and 66, and spans a beneficiant 13’ x 6.6’. It needs to be obvious as a tiny smudge in 10 x 50 binoculars and thru a 80mm (~three-inch) telescope on a clear and moonless night time within the countryside. A 100–150mm (four- to six-inch) telescope underneath excessive magnification can reveal a brilliant nucleus and a surrounding mottled halo, which is the galaxy’s largely unresolved spiral arms, fantastically seen traced by younger, blue star clusters and pinkish star-forming areas in deep beginner photos.

Hubble House Telescope’s tackle NGC 2903. Picture: ESA/Hubble & NASA, L. Ho, J. Lee and the PHANGS-HST Group.


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