M83 (NGC 5236) -- Spiral Galaxy in Hydra
The Southern Pinwheel
The Spiral Galaxy M83 is a stunning face-on galaxy when viewed high above the horizon. My
best observations of this galaxy have been from the Southwestern United States and Hawaii.
Here in Maryland, the galaxy is marred in terminal sky glow when attempting a view from my
backyard. Only by traveling to a local Park to escape some of the light from Washington D.C.
to my south can I spot the Southern Pinwheel.
Even from the Park, M83 does not come close to matching its true beauty. The 110mm
refractor struggled to catch detail within the galaxy. Only by bumping up the magnification
could I catch fleeting glimpses of the magnificent spiral arms that would show easily from under
a more southern darker sky.
Still, viewing a galaxy that is every bit the size of our own Milky Way across 15 million light
years brought the night’s observation session to a pleasing and successful end.