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Skywatch: Use a telescope to find a famous galaxy

The Sombrero Galaxy is in a famous springtime constellation.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — If you’re out Sunday evening look for the first quarter moon. It officially arrives at 8:21 p.m. and moonset isn’t until the wee hours of Monday morning so you should be able to catch the half-moon in the night sky.

If you have a small telescope you might be able to find the object known as Messier 104 or M104. This feature is also called the Sombrero Galaxy and is easiest to spot in the month of May.

The galaxy can be found near the constellation of Virgo, the maiden. It’s about 28 million light-years away from us so if you find it you’re looking back in time at the light that’s taken 28 million years to travel to our interstellar home.

Early risers will be treated to a planetary show in the mornings this week. Venus, Jupiter, Mars and Saturn will stretch from the east to the southeastern sky before sunrise. Venus will be the lowest of the quartet and shine brightest. 

Happy hunting!