How to find the M106 Galaxy in the Canes Venatici Constellation

In this article I want to show you how to find M106 galaxy and what is great about it, since it comes from an interesting part of the night sky below Ursa Major and above the small Canes Venatici constellation. As there are five Messier galaxies and also a number of smaller galaxies in this region of the night sky.

As Ursa Major is a circumpolar constellation, it is always visible throughout the year, making it a great area of the night sky for northern observers. In fact, I have already covered this area of the night sky in articles such as the M51 galaxy, but let us get back to M106.

Click to enlarge the M106 star chart

So, to find the M106 galaxy I would recommend finding the Gamma Ursa Majoris star located in the bottom corner of the Big Dipper or the Plough and then head towards the bright star Cor Caroli in the Canes Venatici constellation. Now as you head towards Cor Caroli look for a bright star along the route. You need to stop here then head down to a small bright star nearby once there you should be able to head about halfway between these two stars to locate the M106 galaxy.

In dark skies, you can see it with a pair of binoculars in good conditions, but I used my 9 x 50 finder scope which is pretty much the strength of a standard pair of binoculars and could not see it. I can confirm that we will need particularly dark skies to observe this in binoculars.

M106 is the site of galactic fireworks caused by shock waves and a supermassive black hole; the shock waves are heating up a large reservoir of gas equal to about 10 million suns. The waves in the gas are believed to be caused by jets of energy generated by the galaxy's black hole striking the galaxy's disk. The waves then heat up the gas to temperatures of thousands of degrees.

Black hole jets are thought to have heated up the gas and ejected it from the galaxy's disk. It is likely that the remaining gas will be ejected by M106 in the next 300 million years, since the galaxy has already expended most of its gas. In other words, unless it can replenish the gas somehow, the number of stars that can be formed in the M106 galaxy will be reduced.

To see what this galaxy will look like through your telescope as well as a long exposure image of M106.

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