Looking Up: M98... Coming Soon To A Galaxy Near you

Jun 19, 2017

Laniakea: Our Home Supercluster of Galaxies - It is not only one of the largest structures known -- it is our home. The just-identified Laniakea Supercluster of galaxies contains thousands of galaxies that includes our Milky Way Galaxy, the Local Group of galaxies, and the entire nearby Virgo Cluster of Galaxies.
Credit R. Brent Tully (U. Hawaii) et al., SDvision, DP, CEA/Saclay / nasa.gov

This week on Looking Up we continue our trek through the Virgo Super Cluster of Galaxies. 

So far in June we’ve talked about a couple of very interesting galaxies visible in the southern Colorado skies. Let’s keep up the trend this week and explore the very pretty, very faint, and very strange galaxy known as Messier object number 98.   

Located in the constellation Coma Berenices, this galaxy is yet another member of the famous Virgo Super-Cluster of galaxies. It is one of the dimmest of the Messier objects, with a magnitude of about 10, so you’ll need to be away from city lights and have a decent telescope to see this lovely spiral galaxy. There are lovely pictures of this nearly edge-on spiral – it’s really very pretty.

But what makes this beauty very unusual is where it is going – or better put, where it is not. You likely have heard that the universe is expanding. Most things in intergalactic space are moving away from each other. Think of an un-inflated toy balloon with spots on it. As you blow up the balloon, each spot seems to move away from all the other spots. That is how most of the universe looks, so to speak. But M98 is moving toward us in the Milky Way at a speed of over 300,000 miles per hour. So in a few billion years, you’ll get to see M98 up close!

If you’d like to take a closer look at M98 or any of the wonderful and amazing things in the sky, please visit csastro.org for a link to information on our monthly meetings and our free public star parties! 

This is Hal Bidlack for the Colorado Springs Astronomical Society, telling you to keep looking up, Southern Colorado!