SH019 – The Realm of the Galaxies, Part 2

In Episode SH019 of Star Hopping…

We’ll continue our exploration of the Realm of the Galaxies in the Virgo region, and using our star hopping methods to find Messier 84, Messier 86, The Eyes Galaxies: NGC 4435 & NGC 4438, and the beautiful spiral, Messier 88. We’ll also do a galaxy hop down Markarian’s Chain.


In this episode of Star Hopping we’ll continue our exploration of the Realm of the Galaxies. This is the second in the series of three episodes where we’ll be checking out the Virgo Supercluster of galaxies, because there’s just so much to cover. In the first episode we established our Guidepost star of 6 Comae Berenices as our starting point. I’ll only lightly review our star hopping methods to get there, so if you missed last week’s episode, it might be a good idea to go back and familiarize yourself; just click on the thumbnail below to play that episode first.

This week we’ll go on a true Galaxy Hop, when we traverse Markarian’s Chain, a group of 11 galaxies that form a long arc in the dead center of the Realm. These galaxies were named after the Armenian astronomer Benik Markarian, who discovered in the 1960s that these galaxies all appear to be moving together in space, and all give off a similar ultraviolet light signature. Some of these galaxies are very faint, pushing 12th magnitude, so you’ll need a moderate sized telescope and a reasonably dark sky to pick them up in your eyepiece. Also, you’ll need to use an eyepiece that gives you the lowest magnification and consequently the largest field of view. This is usually a 35 to 40mm eyepiece. Eyepiece focal length has an inverse relationship with magnification; the higher the eyepiece focal length, the lower the magnification….

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Credits for this Episode

  • Star Chart Images & Simulations Courtesy of SkySafari Astronomy
  • M84 & M86 (the face) image by Scott Rosen
  • Eyes galaxies image by Ken Crawford, Rancho Del Sol Observatory
  • M88 image by Adam Block; Mount Lemmon Sky Center

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