Credits: ESA / Hubble & NASA Acknowledgement: Det58

M61 can be found in the southern portion of the Virgo Cluster. It occupies an area of 6 arc minutes, corresponding to a spatial diameter of about 100,000 light years.
The galaxy has an apparent magnitude of 10.18 and lies at a distance of 52.5 million light years from Earth. It has the designation NGC 4303 in the New General Catalogue. Messier 61 is classified as a starburst galaxy, one undergoing an extremely high rate of star forming activity.The best time of year to observe M61 is during the spring.

Facts about M61 by Keith Turnecliff

mall telescopes show M61 as a faint oval-shaped patch with a bright core, while medium-sized and large telescopes reveal a very clear nucleus and a hint of the galaxy’s spiral arms. The spiral arms and details of the galaxy’s structure become much clearer in 10-inch and 12-inch telescopes.

This star chart represents the view from Long Itchington for mid May at 10pm.
Credits: Image courtesy of Starry Night Pro Plus 8, researched and implemented by Keith Turnecliff.