M 99

Photo by Pittendreigh


First, find Beta Leonis. Then find 6 Coma, which will be an undistinguished star. It will be easy to find because of the pattern of four stars forming an arrow point. Zoom in on 6 Coma. Draw a line along the three stars, including 6 Coma, that form the base of the arrow point, and continue out away from 6 Coma. With my Questar at its lowest setting, I can put 6 Coma on one edge of my field of view and M98 shows up on the other edge.

M99 can be found by zooming in on the head star in that arrow point.

For M100, return to the base of the arrow point. Draw that imaginary line along the three base stars, including 6 Coma, but this time continue the line on the side opposite of 6 Coma.

For me, this arrow point with 6 Coma is the key to the Realm of the Galaxies. I use it to point my way around several other galaxies.


M98 will look like a grain pencil line.

M99 appears as a circular nebula. It is a spiral galaxy viewed face-on, but I can not detect any spiral arms. M99 is the easiest of the three to spot.

M100 is the dimmest of the three. It appears to me like a star with a haze around it. At best, I can see a uniform, circular nebula, but I've never detected any hint of spiral arms, even though M100 is a spiral that is seen nearly face-on.

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