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Sombrero Galaxy NGC4594


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We had a fantastic night last night with our group of guests with cold clear skies giving some great viewing conditions. A combination dark sky tour of "faint fuzzies" and a lunar tour as the moon rose helped complete the night. It made for an eventful viewing session.

One of our favourite faint fuzzies at this time of year is the Sombrero Galaxy or NGC 4594. If you look at a Nasa image you can see how it gets its name

m104colombari_q100_watermark.thumb.jpg.3a7680d816b0ffb4003284aeffa56256.jpg

Image Credit: NASA, ESO, NAOJ, Giovanni Paglioli, but to us on the ground, with our night vision enabled eyes it becomes a little less spectacular, until you get some perspective.

Sombrero is another galaxy, some 31 Million light years from us, and 49,000 light years across. With our closest solar neighbour approx 4 light years away, the 2nd image is a rough approximation of what we could see through the telescope last night as the moon was rising.

935931981_sombrero(2).thumb.jpg.64f2d9a854fa0610ddd52d33330cec17.jpg

The light from Sombrero takes 31m years to reach us, it was from a time when Earth was in the Oligocene period and some 4-6 degrees C warmer than it is now. The first human ancestors appeared between five million and seven million years ago, probably when some apelike creatures in Africa began to walk habitually on two legs. "Humans" were flaking crude stone tools by 2.5 million years ago. Then some of them spread from Africa into Asia and Europe after two million years ago.

 

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