M104 - The Sombrero Galaxy

Credits: ESA / Hubble & NASA

The Sombrero Galaxy, also called M104 or NGC 4594, is about 28 million light-years from our planet in the constellation Virgo. It is so named because the halo surrounding its disc is unusually large, making it look like a sombrero.

Close inspection of the central bulge shows many points of light that are actually globular clusters. M104's spectacular dust rings harbor many younger and brighter stars, and show intricate details astronomers don't yet fully understand.

Facts about M104 by Keith Turnecliff

Messier was compiling a list of objects that are not comets in the sky — he was an avid comet-hunter frustrated by false sightings through looking at galaxies and nebulas. Now known as the Messier catalog, the original set of objects did not include what is now known as M104. Messier, however, wrote about the galaxy on May 11, 1781, in his own copy of the catalog, according to the European Southern Observatory.

The best time to observe M104 is during the month of May.

This star chart represents the view from Long Itchington for mid May at 10pm.
Credits: Image courtesy of Starry Night Pro Plus 8, researched and implemented by Keith Turnecliff.