Messier 104

Click images for larger versions.

Observation Notes:

It’s about time I sketched this beautiful, bright galaxy. Once again, I observed from home, which is not the best place to see structure in galaxies–but the Sombrero was very cooperative. It was conveniently aligned at a PA of 90 degrees. The visible extent appeared to be about 1 x 6 arc minutes. At 120X, the sharp drop in brightness along the south edge was picked up again by a subtle, soft brightening. I would not say the dark lane was apparent at this scale, and under these conditions. At 240X however, the dark lane dividing the two regions was visible. The apparent width of this southern section was about 3 arc minutes.

The heart of the galaxy was punctuated by a stellar core. At 120X, this core appered to be at the edge of the dark lane boundary. At 240X, it was definitely separated from the dark lane. The dark lane appeared to bow very slightly around the stellar core.

Object Information:

M104, the Sombrero Galaxy, lies about 50 million light years away and is a primary member of the M104 group of galaxies. It is an Sa/Sb type galaxy, seen from about 6 degrees above its equatorial plane. It sports a pronounced dust lane as well as a large population of globular clusters. In 1912, it was found to have a large redshift of 1000 km/sec by V. Slipher at Lowell Observatory. M104 was discovered by Pierre Méchain in 1781.

Subject M104 (NGC 4594)
Classification Spiral Galaxy (Sa-Sb)
Position* Virgo [RA: 12:40:00 / Dec: -11:37:00]
Size* 9′ x 4′
Brightness* 8.0 vMag
Date/Time June 21, 2008 – 9:30 PM MST (June 22, 2008 – 04:30 UT)
Observing Loc. Flagstaff, AZ – Home
Instrument Orion SkyQuest XT8 (203 mm dia./1200 mm F/L)
Eyepieces/Mag. 10 mm Sirius Plössl (120X) / 10 mm Sirius Plössl + 2X Barlow (240X)
Conditions Clear, breezy
Seeing 5/10 Pickering
Transparency ~ Mag 5.5 NELM
*References SEDS

5 Replies to “Messier 104”

  1. Once again I must bow to your drawing skills. Having seen this galaxy so many times I am amazed at how well your drawing captures the view in the eyepiece. Very nice!

  2. Exquisite work, amigo! The view at 240x is especially good. I really ought to make more use of the 2x Barlow while observing galaxies that have enough surface brightness to handle the additional magnification.

  3. Andrew and Eric, thanks very much. Coming from two outstanding observers, that means a lot. Eric, I neglected to mention in the report that I was a caught a bit off guard by how well the barlowed view appeared. I’m glad I did it, because it helped convey the dark lane and core positions much better.
    Thanks for the comments!

  4. Excellent drawing Jeremy! I was just looking at M-104 last night @ 194x and 345x with my 6mm TV Delos alone + with my barlow. Your drawing depicts 104 perfectly! I would love to see this at a dark site in a 16″. My next scope is going to be a 16″ and hopefully soon!

  5. Markus, thanks for the comment. It’s great to hear how well the drawing reflected your view! I’m sure a dark sky view with a 16″ scope would be impressive–I hope you get a chance to see it that way soon.

Comments are closed.