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Astr111 Photography Projects, Fall 2005

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M63 (Sunflower Galaxy) , Amy Hoisington

M63 Sunflower Galaxy

This is the Sunflower Galaxy, which is also known as Spiral Galaxy M63 or just M63. It thought to form a "physical group" with the M51 cluster of galaxies including the Whirlpool Galaxy. It is located in the Canes Venatici constellation and is about 24 million light-years from our Milky Way galaxy. It was discovered in 1779 by French astronomer Pierre Méchain. M63's main distinguishing feature is the sudden brightness of the interior in contrast with the grainy spiral arms.

The image reveals the concentrated brilliance in the center and the delicate curls of the galaxy's arms. The immediate area around M63 has a few bright stars but is not, from our point of view, occupying a crowded space. "The outer arms are rather reminiscent of showers of sparks thrown out by a rotating fiery pinwheel. To others, the structure apparently resembles some vast celestial flower, since the galaxy has received the popular name of the 'Sunflower'," says Burnham's Celestial Handbook. It has an angular size of 5x3 arc minutes. The linear size is a diameter of 90,000 light-years across.

References:
Historical Observations and Descriptions of M63, http://www.seds.org/messier/Mdes/dm063.html

http://www.kopernik.org/images/archive/m63.htm

The Messier Catalog: http://www.starshine.com/frankn/astronomy/messier.asp

A series of haiku's about M63: http://www.macalester.edu/astronomy/research/phys20/P20-2004/M63/haiku.html

 

Right Ascension (J2000) 13:16:00
Declination (J2000) 42:02:00
Filters used clear(C)
Exposure time per filter 10x120 seconds
Date observed

October 6, 2005 (C)