Sombrero Galaxy

Designation:                    M104, NGC 4594 – in Virgo.
Magnitude:    +8.1
Apparent size: 8.4 x 4.9 arc-minutes.
Diameter: 69,000  light years.
Distance: 28 million light years.
Date: 2020-04-25
Exposure: 45 x 147 seconds = 110 minutes.
Field of View:37.2 x 48.3 arc-mins.
Orientation:Up is 0.761 degrees E of N.

In 1912, M104’s place in history was secured as Vesto Slipher at the Lowell Observatory determined it as the first galaxy to to have a large redshift.

Within ten years, this lead astronomers to conclude that most galaxies are moving away from each other and that the Universe itself is expanding. It took a further seven decades to make the astonishing discovery that that this expansion was itself accelerating.

There you have it. The history of our Universe in two short paragraphs, with M104 pivotal to it.

M104 is a galaxy with a very prominent symmetrical dust ring, seen about 6° from edge-on. At eighth magnitude, it should be visible in binoculars and most amateur telescopes. We get a great view of it here in Sydney as it culminates at about 68° elevation.

I’ve seen it described as lenticular, elliptical and spiral. I’m unsure how that can be – maybe it is a combination of all three – but it really is a beautiful galaxy, both to view in the eyepiece and to image.

Follow this link to see my image with annotated overlay.

Comet C/2020 F8 (SWAN)

I’ve been asked several times about this object which is currently gracing our morning sky and I’ve been mulling over the possibility of getting up at 3 am to try to image it. Whilst it seems to be one of the most spectacular comets of recent years, it is located in the East, which is a very poor aspect for me.

One person I know who has imaged it is Dr Ángel R. López-Sánchez, who is one of a rare breed: both a professional research astrophysicist (at Siding Spring Observatory) and an enthusiastic amateur astro-photographer (from his own backyard here in Sydney). Ángel is a popular guest speaker at Macarthur Astronomical Society and we know his passion and competence in both fields.

Dr Ángel R. López-Sánchez at Macarthur Astronomical Society

Have a look at Ángel’s WordPress blogsite and in particular his comet image here, taken from his own backyard – they are as good as any I’ve seen. (Then go look at his inspiring time-lapse videos taken against the backdrop of the AAO observatory at Siding Spring).

Telescope Details
SkyWatcher Esprit 120 mm apochromatic 3-element refractor.
840 mm focal length @ f/7 with field flattener.
Baader L-Booster UHC-S light pollution filter 2458276.
SkyWatcher EQ6-R Pro mount.
Camera: ZWO ASI 071 MC Pro (CMOS 28.4mm 16 Mpx)
ZWO ASI120 guide camera, using PHD2 software.
2018-03-10 Telescope & Roger
Images © Roger Powell
I’m one of the founding members of Macarthur Astronomical Society,
Australia. 🙃


  1. Your 2 paragraph summary was superb. The Sombrero is one of my favorites. Although, I’ve never seen it except in photos. Thanks for the links to the Dr. López-Sánchez info. You are fortunate to have him speak.

    No astronomy going on here lately. It has been raining.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Roger, great image, I have been thinking of imaging M104 for a while but it lies very low down from where I live only just rising above the neighbours roof top.


    1. Yes, I reckon you should glimpse it at about 30°, but if your southern aspect is poor, I guess you need to choose other targets.
      My northern aspect is Sydney sky glow, so I have a similar problem to you.

      Liked by 1 person

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