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Astr110 Photography Projects, Spring 2010

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Spindle Galaxy , Stephanie Garvelink

Spindle Galaxy

Located in northern constellation Draco, the beautiful Spindle Galaxy is a lenticular galaxy that is seen here from a side view. Notably it is shaped like a spindle with a core that is much brighter than its edges. Although we can see the bulge, it is actually a very thin galactic disk. In this image it also appears slightly yellow in color. The yellow and red tints visible here indicate that it is made up of mainly older stars, and since there is very little blue that means that there are very few young stars forming in this galaxy. At about 45 million light years distant, this galaxy has an angular size of about 3.1 arc minutes, which translates to a size of about 40,000 light years. With an estimated visual magnitude of 9.9 and an estimated mass of 1 trillion solar masses, this galaxy stands out from its neighbors. In other words, it is extremely massive and bright. It also stands out due to the controversy it has generated over the years and the variety of names that have been associated with it through the contentions of its first observers. Pierre Méchain was most likely the first to have seen it in March of the year 1781, followed shortly by Charles Messier who is believed to have recorded it as M102 in his catalogue. Hence one of its names. However, Méchain later denied having made this discovery and Messier's recorded location of the galaxy was off by about 5 degrees. What we do know with relative certainty, though, is that William Herschel discovered this galaxy independently on May 5, 1788 and recorded it as H I.215. It was also later categorized as NGC 5866 in the "New General Catalogue" of astronomical objects.


Frommert, Hartmut and Kronberg, Christine. "NGC 5866 / Messier 102 ?" Students for the Exploration and Development of Space. http://www.seds.org/messier/m/ngc5866.html

NASA. "APOD: 2006 June 12-Edge On Galaxy NGC 5866" National Aeronautics and Space Administration.



Right Ascension (J2000) 10:05:47
Declination (J2000) -07:46:20
Filters used blue(B), green(V), red(R), and clear(C)
Exposure time per filter 5x60 seconds in BVRC
Date observed

March 12, 2012 (BVRC)