Spiral Galaxy NGC 2903 in Leo
February 2024 - Picture of the Month
Yes, I've used another image from a professional observatory, and a space telescope at that. I had something else in mind, but I couldn't get permission to use that image in time. All the same, I think that this is a glorious image of NGC 2903 filling the frame.
This galaxy is roughly 30 million light-years away which would make it upto 110,000 light-years in diameter. You can clearly see its spiral nature and the dusty dark lanes that are home to those bright blue star forming regions. It was an investigation into the role of supermassive black holes and that bright central bulge surrounding them that drew the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) to image this galaxy.
However as a kind of compensation I should point you to the wonderful images by Josep Drudis, and by Adam Block. Both have captured the features mentioned above beautifully whilst also showing the galaxy in its star field, capturing a few other galaxies in the process. The most obvious are at the bottom of both images, UGC 5086 on the left and PGC 1648681 on the right.
Whilst neither of those are visual targets, NGC 2903 itself is so accessible that even I've observed it relatively easily in my 130mm and 150mm newtonian telescopes. It has a visual magnitude of about 9, and being relatively large and bright it's not hard to find.
James Whinfrey - Website Administrator.