Sunflower Galaxy (Messier 63). Image credit: NASA/ESA/HLA/STScl/ST-ECF/CADC
For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, high overhead on spring nights can be found the constellations of Canes Venatici (the Hunting Dogs) and Ursa Major (the Great Bear). Both contain several bright distant galaxies along with many fainter ones, as well as an interesting nebula. Possibly the most famous of all the double stars, which is in fact a multiple star system, lies in this region too. There are some well-known galaxies that will be relatively easy target for even small telescopes but many will require a larger aperture and dark skies to see well.
Image credit: NASA/ESA
1 – The Whirlpool Galaxy (Messier 51)
Use the tip of the Great Bear’s tail to find this interacting galaxy. You’ll need at least a small telescope to pick out a diffuse patch of light with a bright central region at its heart.
2 – Pinwheel Galaxy (Messier 101)
Scopes with an aperture of about three inches will reveal a nebulous haze with a bright centre, while an eight-inch instrument will show a bright, condensed core surrounded by nebulosity.
3 – The Owl Nebula (Messier 97)
This is a planetary nebula – ...