Now that we are on the winter side of fall, constellations of the passing season are already high and in prime viewing position early after astronomical dark. Tonight, that time comes at p. In the constellation Pegasus, high in the southeast, are two wonderful galaxy groups. One, NGC , is visible in modest telescopes from suburban skies, and the other, Stephan's Quintet is a challenge of varying degree. It is a prominent enough galaxy to be included in a list of highlight objects by Sir Patrick Moore, in his Caldwell list.
Hover or click NGC bears a striking resemblance to our own Milky Way galaxy, including number of stars, mass, spiral arm pattern and star-formation rate of a few stars per year. The Spitzer Infrared Space Telescope has made extensive studies of this island universe and discovered an intensely hot inner ring of material indicating a region where new stars are being generated. Along with it float several other galaxies, located much farther in space, forming a chance alignment that makes them all appear to be close together. In fact, the three galaxies immediately above the largest would dwarf it were they as close, they are actually ten times farther away.