The Deepsky: Top-100

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Deepsky Top-100 (6): NGC 2903

From my backyard, which is heavily light polluted, I cannot see too much galaxies. In an article in sky and telescope I read that NGC 2903 was even brighter than M 65 and M66, but for an unknown reason was not included in the Messier catalogue. This object is easy tot locate, because there are some bright stars in the Lion's head that will guide you to NGC 2903. In the lion's head, locate 17 Epsilon Leonis. From there go about four degrees in west-southwestern direction. There you will find NGC 2903.

NGC 2903

Finder chart for NGC 2903. Limiting magnitude 8.
Credit and copyright SkyTools 2 by Capellasoft

Click here to download a printable finder chart (PDF)

NGC 2903 is a big bright barred spiral galaxy. Its size is 12' by 5', and its visual magnitude is 9.0. It lies at a distance of 31 million light years and its true size is over 110,000 light years. Dreyer described NGC 2903 in his NGC catalogue as "Considerably bright, very large, extended, gradually much brighter middle, resolvable, but mottled, southwest of 2 (stars)".

When observing NGC 2903 for the very first time, I immediately spotted the galaxies bright core, without averted vision. Using averted vision it turned into a very elongated, faint smudge of light. Apart from the bright core, I could not detect any details. Later, when comparing my sketch with my sky atlas, I noted that it was even bigger. The two stars south of this galaxy, actually lie right near the southern tip of NGC 2903.

NGC 2903

NGC 2903, 100x, FOV 29'

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