M102, Messier 102, NGC 5866

M102, Messier 102, NGC 5866

A few nights back (Friday the 13th to be exact!), I watched as a bright light “flew” across the sky. Flying swiftly from West to East, by the time I was able to get my iphone video camera out it was nearly covered by the trees. Binoculars handy, I pulled them out to take a peek but didn’t see any definitive shape. No flashing “wing lighting” of an airplane, not even contrails that you’d normally expect to see this time of year. However, it was on a path that I have seen many an airplane take, and that’s my conclusion. No abducted children, no crop circles folks, no x-files here.

But there are a lot of interesting space things floating around out there, and some of them even look like flying saucers. Saturn, for instance. When viewed under very low powers, edge on, the rings can definitely make it appear as a disc with an arc through the middle. And it is really floating out there.

M102 - 400x zoom

M102 - 400x zoom

So is the mysteriously “not included in original catalogue” Messier 102 (NGC 5886). Tammy Plotner wrote an excellent piece discussing it’s history (and location) which you ought to check out if you’re interested. But this quickly became a target of interest to image given our first “maybe out of this world” encounter!

A 400% zoom on this make the slight curvature of the dust lane more apparent. But it still retains that edge-on flying saucer appearance, much more than many of the ‘needle’ type galaxies. In the era of Messier, having just recovered from the likes of the Salem Witch Trials and other supernatural phenomena, it’s surprising this wouldn’t have popped up as the discovery of an “orbiting flying saucer” Go figure.

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