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Pinwheel Galaxy

Pinwheel Galaxy

Messier 99 (M99), also known as the Coma Pinwheel or Virgo Cluster Pinwheel, is an unbarred spiral galaxy in Coma Berenices. The galaxy is a member of the Virgo Cluster

The Coma Pinwheel occupies an area of 5.4 by 4.7 arc minutes of apparent sky, which corresponds to a linear diameter of 85,000 light years. It is one of the brighter spiral galaxies in the Virgo Cluster and appears almost face-on, which makes it a popular target for both professional and amateur astronomers.

The galaxy can be seen in small telescopes, but only appears as a dim ball of light with a brighter centre. 8-inch telescopes reveal a hazy patch of light with a more clearly defined centre. 10-inch telescopes begin to hint at the spiral structure under good conditions, and larger instruments reveal the galaxy’s dust bands and other details.

Messier 99 can be found 7 degrees east of the bright star Denebola in Leo or just under a degree southeast of the magnitude 5.1 star 6 Comae Berenices, which lies 0.5 degrees east of the edge-on spiral galaxy Messier 98. The best time of year to observe M99 and other galaxies in the Virgo Cluster is during the spring.


Further Resources


M101 - Supernova and Pinwheel Galaxy - Deep Sky Videos


June 7, 2012

Messier 99: Coma Pinwheel - Messier Objects


August 28, 2015

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