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Astr111 Photography Projects, Fall 2009

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Polarissima Borealis, Samuel Champagne

Polarissima Borealis

The bright object in the center of the picture above is Polarissima Borealis (NGC 3172)and it is a spiral galaxy in the constellation of Ursa Minor, or better known as the Little Dipper. The galaxy earned its name from being less than one degree away from our most northerly declination. Our galaxy, the Milky Way, is actually a spiral galaxy as well. Spiral galaxies are noted to be in many different shapes but are most recognized as containing something like a flat disk in the middle with spiral arms. Think of the letter “S” where the bulk of the galaxy would be in the middle of the “S” and the top and bottom are the spiral arms. You will not be able to notice this in the picture above because Polarissima Borealis is very far away.

The picture above was taken using clear filters, no colors are present. You will notice that the Polarissima Borealis is bright in the center but appears cloudy. This was done to bring out more light in the picture because this spiral galaxy is quite a distance away. Polarissima Borealis is about 85.7 Mpc away from Earth and its linear diameter is approximately 14,000 pc. You will notice that to the right of Polarissima Borealis there appears to be a companion galaxy. This is also a spiral galaxy; MCG 15-1-10.The linear distance between both galaxies as it appears from Earth is 31,000 pc which is close enough that these two galaxies may be related.     


Chaisson, Eric, and Steve McMillan. Astronomy: A Beginner's Guide to the University. 2ndnd ed. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, n.d. 420. Print.

"Ursa Minor." N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Nov. 2009. <http://www.wingmakers.co.nz/Ursa_Minor.html>.

Right Ascension (J2000) 11:50:00
Declination (J2000) +89:07:00
Filters used clear (C)
Exposure time per filter 20 x 60 seconds in C
Date observed

November 7, 2009 (C)