NGC 3631 -- Spiral Galaxy in Ursa Major
The Last Galaxy for the Night
With a magnitude brightness of 10.4, one would expect the Spiral Galaxy NGC 3631 would be
an easy target from my backyard with the 155mm refractor. However, NGC 3631 was anything
but. This galaxy is nearly face on to us and exhibits low surface brightness. It was all that I could
do to make out the core of the galaxy. The surrounding disk was hinted at, through the telescope,
but absolute certainty that I was seeing something of the galaxy’s famous two spiral arms and its
impressive disk proved beyond my ability.
I had not planned on ending tonight’s observations with such a difficult target. I usually like to end
with something that is a bit less challenging that can leave me more of an “Oh My” moment. But
thin bans of high clouds were beginning to move over the sky. The uncompromising clouds
signaled that my time at the scope was at end.