M63 The Sunflower Galaxy

M63 Galaxy

The Sunflower Galaxy

The Sunflower Galaxy is a relatively bright magnitude 9.6 spiral galaxy about 3 degrees northeast of Cor Caroli (alpha Canum Venaticorum). It can be found about midway between Cor Caroli and the end star of the handle of the Big Dipper. We see it oriented about 30 degrees from an edge-on position. The galaxy is know as a multiple-arm spiral, with many regions of bright nebulosity forming cloudlets and condensations in the outer arms. It has a very bright central neucleus, which has been reduced in this image using a gamma stretch of the image data. M63 is receding from us at a rate of 345 miles per second. This implies a distance from us of about 35 million light-years. It is about 90,000 light-years in diameter. It can be seen with amateur size telescopes under dark skies. The galaxy was discovered by Mechain in 1779. It was included in the second publication of the Messier catalog in 1780.

This image was taken from my backyard in Scottsdale, Arizona. It is an LRGB composite CCD image taken with an SBIG ST-8E CCD at prime focus on a Takahashi FCT-150 scope at f7. The image was acquired and processed using MaxIm DL/CCD and ACP software.

M63 (NGC 5055)
The Sunflower Galaxy.
Constellation: Canes Venatici
RA: 13h 15m 53.3s Dec: +42d 01' 41"
April 30 & May 1-8, 2005
Image by Sid Leach
Scottsdale, Arizona

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