M99  (NGC 4254) -- Spiral Galaxy in Coma Berenices
St. Katherine’s Wheel
M99 is a large spiral galaxy in the Virgo Cluster.  It has three-times the star formation
activity of an average Spiral Galaxy of its size.  Two common names are attributed to
this galaxy, the Coma Pinwheel Galaxy and St. Katherine’s Wheel.  Since it is a large
face-on spiral and in the constellation Coma Berenices, the name Coma Pinwheel
Galaxy makes a lot of sense.  The name St. Katherine’s Wheel leaves me scratching
my head.  Saint Katherine was an 18-year-old, martyred virgin (c. 287-305).  She was
put to death on a torture wheel.  Why this magnificent galaxy was named for a torture
device is beyond me.  I like the name Coma Pinwheel Galaxy far better than
St. Katherine’s Wheel, but my mind triggers the saint’s torture-wheel each time I
visit it.