M 58 Spiral Galaxy in Virgo
Galaxy M58 Through Clouds
Venturing into the Virgo Cluster of Galaxies with a small telescope in suburban skies
always challenges ones observing patience.  However, with a little effort the rewards can
be satisfying.  M58 is a barred spiral galaxy a lot like our own Milky Way Galaxy.  From the
deck of my house the 6.1-inch refractor hinted at its bars, but they danced in-and-out of
view, as objects on the edge of visibility often do.  I was so focused trying to see detail
within this galaxy, that I failed to notice that a brief collection of clouds had rolled in from the
north (it was supposed to be clear all night).  I first noticed the galaxy slowly fading and then
returning to normal brightness. The brighter stars in the same field of view were not as
affected by the clouds, so the impression I got was that it was only the galaxy that was
connected to a cosmic dimmer-switch that was slowly being dimmed and then
brightened again.  Of course, once I finally pulled away from the telescope and noticed
the clouds, my mystery was solved.  The overhead clouds only lasted about 20 or so
minutes, just enough time for another cup of coffee.