M63 - Sunflower Galaxy
Messier 63 or M63 (also designated NGC 5055) is a spiral galaxy in the constellation Canes Venatici. It has an apparent visual magnitude of 8.6 and its angular diameter is 10x6 arc-minutes. M63 lies at an estimated distance of 37 million light years. The Equinox 2000 coordinates are RA= 13h 15.8m, Dec= +42° 02´ which makes M63 best seen during the spring. The Messier Spring Star Chart shows the position of all Messier objects visible during that season. As one of the more famous objects in the Messier Catalog, it is commonly known as the Sunflower Galaxy.
The image above shows the uncropped view of M63 through the Takahashi E-180 Astrograph (North is up). A 3x enlargement of this image centered on the Sunflower Galaxy appears to the right.
This spiral galaxy was discovered by P. Méchain in 1779. The 3rd Earl of Rosse included it in his list of 14 "spiral nebulae" in 1850. M63 is physically associated with M51 as a member of the M51 group. According to Stoyan et al. (2010), the distance of M63 is 26.7 million light years and its diameter is 98,000 light years. Its estimated mass is 140 billion solar masses.
Messier's Description of M63
June 14, 1779
`Nebula discovered by M. Méchain in Canes Venatici. M. Messier searched for it; it is faint, it has nearly the same light as the nebula reported under no. 59 [M59]: it contains no star, and the slightest illumination of the micrometer wires makes it disappear: it is close to a star of 8th magnitude, which precedes the nebula on the hour wire. M. Messier has reported its position on the Chart of the track of the Comet of 1779.'
- Object: M63
- Other Names: NGC 5055, Sunflower Galaxy
- Object Type: spiral galaxy
- Object Data: Apparent Magnitude = 8.6, Angular Size = 10x6 arc-minutes
- Object Position (Equinox 2000): RA= 13h 15.8m, Dec= +42° 02´, Constellation = Canes Venatici
- Date/Time: 2011 Apr 25 at 07:47 UTC
- Location: Bifrost Astronomical Observatory, Portal, AZ
- Mount: Astro-Physics 1200GTO
- Telescope: Takahashi Epsilon 180 Hyperbolic Astrograph
- Camera: Canon EOS 550D (Rebel T2i) (modified with a Baader UV/IR filter)
- Field of View: 1.70° x 2.56° at 1.7 arc-sec/pixel (web version: 10.0 arc-sec/pixel)
- Exposure: 4 x 300s, f/2.8, ISO 800
- File Name: M63-01w.jpg
- Processing (Adobe Camera Raw): Graduated Filter, Vignetting Correction, Noise Reduction, White Balance, Curves
- Processing (Photoshop CS5): Average Images, Curves, Noise Reduction
- Original Image Size: 3454 × 5179 pixels (17.9 MP); 11.5" x 17.3" @ 300 dpi
- Rights: Copyright 2011 by Fred Espenak. All Rights Reserved. See: Image Licensing.