By: "Tony Cecce, Corning, NY"

Twelve Month Tour of the Messier Catalog
May Messier Objects

This month we continue our tour of our nearby neighbors outside the Milky May galaxy. Our observing will take in 10 more galaxies. Be ready to look for very faint and small objects. Most are possible to see in binoculars, but you will need a telescope and dark skies to really enjoy the sights. This is the final warm up to prepare us for next month's challenge, navigating the Virgo Cluster of galaxies. When you are done with these objects and give yourself a treat, skip ahead to the summer globular clusters of M3 or M13. While they are not an official part of this month's tour they should never be missed whenever they are available. Besides these bright and spectacular objects are a treat to tired eyes after a night of galaxy hunting. Be careful, these are so bright after the other objects that you might want to wear shades.

[M51 Image] M51 - The famous Whirlpool galaxy in Canes Venatici is a bright face on spiral with a smaller eliptical companion, NGC 5195. Look for a pair of fuzzy patches of light. The slightly larger and brighter one is M51. Make sure to spend some time here as there is almost always some spiral structure to be seen, on good nights the detail possible is unbelievable. This is a difficult but very possible object in binoculars appearing as a hazy patch of light.

[M63 Image] M63 - Another spiral galaxy in Canes Venatici smaller and fainter than M51, but seen more edge on so the galaxy appears as an elongated patch of light with a bright star at one end. Further inspection will show a faint halo around this patch. A difficult object in binoculars.

[M94 Image] M94 - Just past M63 is another galaxy in Canes Vanitici. Look for a bright fuzzy star to find the core of M94, surrounded by a faint haze. A tough binocular object.

[M101 Image] M101 - I consider this face on spiral galaxy in Ursa Major one of the most difficult Messier objects to find in a telescope. This is a large faint patch of light almost as big as the full moon. There are no real condensations so use low power and look for a brighter part of the sky, more of a change in contrast than an object at first glance, which is the galaxy. Dark skies really help in the search of this one and are a to find M101 in binoculars.

[NGC5866 Image] M102 - Not an official Messier object in most references, we will look for the galaxy NGC 5866 which is a somewhat standard insertion. Look for a small, faint patch light that looks like a short fuzzy line.

[M64 Image] M64 - In a telescope this galaxy in Coma Berenices is a fairly bright, slightly oval shaped patch of light. Look for the dark lane which gives this galaxy the common name Black Eye. The galaxy appears as a faint fuzzy patch in binoculars.

[M85 Image] M85 - This eliptical galaxy lies in Coma Berenices just north of the Virgo Cluster of galaxies. This appears as a bright, but small, patch of light with a bright stellar core.

[M49 Image] M49 - This is an elliptical galaxy in Virgo just south of the main cluster of galaxies. M49 is round patch of light with bright center gradually fading to a round halo. M49 looks like a faint fuzzy star in binoculars.

[M61 Image] M61 - This is a face on spiral galaxy just south of M49 in Virgo, but much fainter. Look for a faint, round fuzzy patch of light.

[M104 Image] M104 - This is the well known Sombrero galaxy in Virgo. It is bright edge on spiral galaxy which looks like a bright, elongated streak. It is very possible to see in binoculars.

Last Month - M40, M65, M66, M95, M96, M97, M105, M106, M108, M109
Next Month - M58, M59, M60, M84, M86, M87, M88, M89, M90, M91, M98,
             M99, M100 (The Virgo Cluster)
                                                A. J. Cecce, rev. 1.0, 1995