Millions of Light-Years and Infinity Inbetween

 

One small cog of a vast wheel of the Virgo supercluster

 

Out local group of galaxies are the closest celestial bodies of this type to the Milky Way

The distance involved in traveling to the next galaxy is staggering to consider

The Messier Catalogue

Astronomy News – Astronomers looking upward into the night sky realised centuries ago that deep-sky objects are distributed unevenly about the night sky. French comet hunter Charles Messier (1730-1817) looking upward into the night sky through his time-machine-to-the-stars compiled a popular catalog of deep-sky objects. His catalogue contains high concentrations of deep-sky objects within the Milky Way above you, where open star clusters and star-forming areas that form them congregate.

Messier’s catalogue also contains entries on 16 objects he located near the border between the constellations Virgo and Coma Berenices. Star gazer William Herschel (1738-1822) and his son, John Herschel (1792-1871), recorded more than 200 celestial objects in this same region of the night sky. It would be in the 1920s and 1930s that astronomers would determine that these nebulous objects are in fact galaxies as big, or larger than, the Milky Way galaxy that constitute a cluster of galaxies far beyond the Milky Way.

Our Local Group of galaxies

Two decades later, French-born astronomer Gerard de Vaucouleurs (1918-1995) noted that the halo of galaxies surrounding what astronomers referred too as the Virgo cluster actually extends all the way to our Local Group of galaxies, which the Milky Way calls home. Today astronomers refer to this Local Group of galaxies as our Local Supercluster of galaxies.

Presently, astronomers believe our Local Supercluster extends 50 million light-years, from the center of the Virgo cluster. We’ll journey from the center of our Local Group to slightly beyond the Virgo cluster. Along the way we’ll stop at all of the galaxy groups and clusters containing at least three reasonably large galaxies and see what astronomers have determined about these distant celestial bodies in the night sky above you.

The first celestial object in the night sky we’ll journey to see is called the Ursa Major North Group, next we’ll travel to Ursa Major South Group, and then make our way to each of the galaxy groups and clusters in the Milky Way’s Local Group of neighbors.

The first leg of the human journey to the beginning of space and time

 
The Virgo cluster is mostly empty space, with dense areas of matter in between

Check out my latest astronomy site at http://astronomytonight.yolasite.com/

Learn how NASA astronomers are planning on detecting extraterrestrial moons orbiting distant suns https://spaceshipearth1.wordpress.com/2013/12/31/searching-for-extraterrestrial-moons/.

Read about the latest news on life beyond Earth https://spaceshipearth1.wordpress.com/2013/12/25/the-search-for-life-beyond-earth-takes-a-turn-at-jupiter/.

Take a look at the latest natural color images taken by the Cassini spacecraft https://spaceshipearth1.wordpress.com/2013/12/22/cassini-spacecraft-show-views-of-the-solar-system-in-natural-color/.

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