Much Much Messier

There is an area of the sky in the constellation Virgo known as the Realm of the Galaxies. In the image below you can see easily a dozen and there are many many more that you can’t quite pick out. There’s a central “J” or hook structure that’s called Markarian’s Chain. The chain contains M84 and M86 as well as half a dozen others. Also in the image are M87 and M88. I guess the simplest explanation is that we are looking out of the plane of our galaxy so we can see these other galaxies without interference. M84 is, for example something like 55 million light years from us while the core of the milky way is something like 50,000 light years away. I guess all of the individual stars that we can see are in a “tiny” corner of our own galaxy – tens to hundreds of light years away. Honestly, I had never heard of Markarian’s Chain before this week and i never realized how many galaxies we could see before i took this picture.

The image from below is from pointing out what’s in my image. I haven’t checked every one but i believe each entry represents a galaxy. NGC 4305 to pick one at random is 100 million light years away.


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