Spiral Galaxy
NGC 4258
Canes Venatici
12H 19m +47° 18'

Magnitude: 8.4
Size: 19' × 8'
Distance: 25 million light-years


Requires intermediate skills

Skill Level
Although the core of M106 is easy to capture, the faint extended arms require long exposures.

MayBest Month
Tackle this target in the month of May.

Recommended Equipment
M106 is a relatively large galaxy and it is probably best captured with a rich-field Newtonian.  

SCTs are also a good choice, though they may require a focal reducer to fit the entire galaxy in the field of view.

Image Stats
Meade 8" SN LXD75
Meade DSI Pro III
Meade RGB + IR filters

LRGB 556:60:60:64 minutes respectively. 4-minute subs; binned 2×2 for RGB.

Average to excellent transparency
23-25 April 2010
San Mateo, CA

See Also
M106 (February 2005)

There is a massive black hole at the center of M106 and all the gaseous clouds and stars systems in its vicinity are being sucked into its maw. The two major arms of the galaxy look peaceful enough, but the sharp, bright glow of the nucleus comes from the superheated ionized gas that is spiraling into M106's black hole.

Most spiral galaxies, including ours, are thought to harbor a supermassive black hole, but M106's is particularly active. In fact, M106 is known as a Seyfert galaxy, just like M77. To my eyes, M106 looks very similar to M77 except seen at an oblique angle. For example, notice the chaotic and bright central area surrounded by a much fainter extended disk.


Imaging Notes

Visually, M106 is a very challenging object but don't let that stop you from photographing it. The detail that is so difficult to detect at the eyepiece is glaringly obvious in long-exposure photographs. Unlike the beautiful patterns of M63, however, the detail in M106 is more chaotic and asymmetric. I confess that it took me a while to appreciate its charm, but suspect that this will be an object that I will return to again and again.

Though the central disk of M106 is bright, you will need long sub-exposures to capture the faint outer regions. The center can take a fair amount of sharpening, but make sure that you don't increase noise in the faint areas.

More Images

M106 by Tom Diana

Tom Diana

Orion 120ED — Atik 16-HR — LRGB 90:30:30:30 (5 minute subs)

M106 by Chuck Domaracki

Chuck Domaracki

Orion ED 80 refractor — DSI Pro II — LRGB 260:60:60:60 (20 minute subs for luminance; 5 minute subs for RGB)

M106 by Jean-Jacques Rapp

Jean-Jacques Rapp

Takahashi TSA102 — DSI Pro II — 250 minutes luminance (10 minute subs)

M106 by Mark Sibole

Mark Sibole

80 mm APO — DSI Pro III

M106 by Mike Tapper

Mike Tapper

90mm Megrez APO — Atik 16 one-shot color — 30 minutes (3 minute subs)

M106 by Craig & Tammy Temple

Craig & Tammy Temple

Celestron C8 @ f/6.3 — Canon Digital Rebel T1i — 402 minutes (3 minute subs)

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