Messier 104: The Sombrero Galaxy

Messier 104. Image Credit: NASA/ESA
Messier 104: Known as the Sombrero Galaxy, Messier 104 is a near edge on spiral galaxy. This galaxy has a dark dust lane on the bottom and bright core, earning its title. At 29.3 light years away, the Sombrero Galaxy shines bright with approximately 100 billion stars. The dark dust lane in the front of the galaxy is a massive star forming region made of cool hydrogen gas. The stark contrast between the bright central region of the galaxy and the dark dust lane make for a stunning view. At a magnitude of around 9, Messier 104 can be seen with good binoculars or a small telescope in dark skies. In more light polluted areas, you will need more aperture to view the galaxy. To find Messier 104, first find the bright star Spica in the constellation Virgo. Then find the star Algorab in the constellation Corvus. Then trace a few degrees North, North East until you are parallel with Spica. The Sombrero will appear in your field of view and you’ll get to experience the cosmic hat!

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