2019 June 20
A View Toward M106
Big, bright, beautiful
spiral, Messier 106 dominates this cosmic
The nearly two degree wide
field of view looks toward the well-trained constellation
Canes Venatici, near the handle of the Big Dipper.
Also known as NGC 4258, M106 is about 80,000 light-years across and
23.5 million light-years away, the largest member of the
II galaxy group.
For a far away galaxy, the distance to M106 is well-known
in part because it can be
by tracking this galaxy's remarkable maser, or microwave laser emission.
Very rare but naturally occurring, the
emission is produced
by water molecules in molecular clouds orbiting its
Another prominent spiral galaxy on the scene, viewed nearly
is NGC 4217 below and right of M106.
The distance to NGC 4217 is much less well-known, estimated
to be about 60 million light-years.