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Spindle Galaxy M102 (NGC 5866)
Joel Smith

M102

Messier 102 (M102) was originally spotted by Pierre Mechain in March of 1781 who then informed Charles Messier, a notable French astronomer, of his findings. Messier cataloged this galaxy without actually verifying the information and then later, in May of 1783, wrote a letter formally expressing that this object was most likely M101. Later verification of the coordinates of M102 combined with Messier’s description of the galaxy give cause to believe that it is not actually M101, but rather NGC 5866, a lenticular galaxy also known as the Spindle Galaxy. M102 is found at the southern edge of the constellation Draco and is 50 million light-years away from Earth. Its radius is approximately 35,000 light-years across containing around 100 billion stars and has an apparent magnitude of 9.9.

This image of M102 shows a very bright center with long blue arms extending outward. These long blue regions indicate areas filled with younger stars and/or very large, hot stars. The center yellow region shows a large saturation of stars of medium temperature.

References:

"Messier 102-M102-NGC 8566-Spindle Galaxy (Lecticular Galaxy)." http://freestarcharts.com/messier-102

"Messier 102." http://messier.seds.org/m/m102.html

 

Right Ascension (J2000) 14:03:12
Declination (J2000) +54:17:52
Filters used B (Blue), R (Red), V (Green)
Exposure x number of images for each filter B, V, and R (90s x 5)
Image dimension 975x883 pixels; 21.3x19.3 arcminutes
Date/time observed March 16, 2016, 10:20 UT
Distance 13.8 pc (messier.seds.org/m/m102.html)
Scale 4.0 kpc/arcminute

 

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