MONDAY ASTRONOMY PICTURE PONDERINGS 8/1/2022
Staring Into a Starburst Galaxy
Welcome back to the Monday Astronomy Picture Ponderings (MAPPs) series where every Monday I normally pick one of NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) entries from the past seven days to focus on in some way.
Astronomy is a particularly interesting field of science, especially when introducing it to new, especially young, learners because it’s just so enticing on a basic level. Who hasn’t looked up in awe on a particularly clear, gorgeous night filled with stars? Who hasn’t, at least once, wondered what else is out there in the heavens above?
Images of astronomical objects are beautiful, awe-inspiring, question-inducing, and incredibly humbling. They tap into innate human curiosity today just as much as they did hundreds and thousands of years ago. We have always been fascinated by the night sky.
The feature image above is a gorgeous view of the inner rings of a galaxy known as Messier 94, located within the Canes Ventatici (Hunting Dogs) constellation located directly beneath the tail of Ursa Major (Big Bear). You may also know it as the handle of the Big Dipper (a well-known collection of stars within in the Ursa Major constellation).
The Hunting Dogs constellation is one of the many that can be difficult to envision the subject from just the stars. Even connecting them in the right way makes very abstract art that doesn’t easily help you envision dogs. Below you can see an 1825 star chart with illustrations to depict both Canes Venitici and Bootes to the left, though you can see that the illustrations of the dogs don’t perfectly line up with the stars.
However, let’s get back to the Messier 94 galaxy within the Hunting Dogs, about 15 million lightyears away from us, a relatively close distance in space, pictured again below for easy…