M99 Galaxy

M99 Galaxy

M99 is a 10th magnitude spiral galaxy that can be detected under dark skies with a small telescope or binoculars. The galaxy is face-on to us, and the form is somewhat asymmetric with one arm extending noticeably farther than any other. This galaxy has one of the largest red shifts of any galaxy in the Virgo cluster. The galaxy is about 50,000 light-years in diameter, and about 50 million light-years away from us. M99 has a total mass of about 50 billion suns.

M99 was discovered by Mechain in 1781. It was included in the Messier catalog published in 1781. In 1848, Lord Rosse noted it to be the second galaxy ever recognized as a spiral, although at the time no one realized it was a distant galaxy of stars. M99 was called the Pinwheel Nebula by R.H. Allen at a time when astronomers thought that M99 and other galaxies were clouds of gas, or nebula, in our own Milky Way. M99 shares the "pinwheel" name with M33.

This is an LRGB composite CCD image. An ST-8E CCD was used at prime focus on a Takahashi FCT-150 refractor at f7. The luminance channel images were taken on two nights, and the RGB data was acquired on a third night.

M99 (NGC 4254)
Constellation: Coma Berenices
RA: 12h 19m 01.5s Dec: +14d 23' 31"
March 14, 15 & 16, 2004
Image by Sid Leach
Scottsdale, Arizona

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