NGC 2903: A Glimpse into the Barred Spiral Galaxy

NGC 2903
NGC 2903 spiral galaxy using 32 inch Schulman telescope on Mt. Lemmon, AZ. Credit: Joseph D. Schulman. License: CC BY-SA 4.0.

NGC 2903 is a breathtaking barred spiral galaxy located approximately 30 million light-years away from Earth. With its bright central region and spiral arms extending outwards, it’s an awe-inspiring sight to behold.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the majestic beauty of this galaxy and explore the wonders that lie within.

Where Is NGC 2903 Located

NGC 2903 is a barred spiral galaxy located in the constellation Leo. It is a stunningly beautiful galaxy that has captured the attention of astronomers and stargazers alike.

Despite being located approximately 30 million light-years away from Earth, the unparalleled view from our perspective allows us to witness its captivating vistas. It is inclined by an angle of 60° to our line of sight.

NGC 2903 is a field galaxy, which is a galaxy not belonging to a larger galaxy group or cluster and so is gravitationally alone. It still belongs to the Virgo Supercluster alongside our own Local Group and many other clusters of galaxies.

Leo Constellation Map IAU
Leo Constellation Map. Credit: IAU and Sky & Telescope magazine (Roger Sinnott & Rick Fienberg). License: CC BY 3.0.

The Size of NGC 2903

This galaxy is similar in size to our own Milky Way at about 100,000 light-years in diameter, so only slightly larger, with presumably a similar number of stars. The question of how many stars are in NGC 2903 is not easily answered, as the estimates for our own Milky Way galaxy vary wildly from 100 to 400 billion stars.

Of the total stellar mass, 88% is found in the galaxy’s outer disk and 6% is in the bar. The bulge adds another 6% of stellar mass. Its superb structural formation makes it one of the most magnificent sights in the universe.

Other NGC 2903 Facts

It was discovered in 1784 by German-born British astronomer William Herschel. He, as well as subsequent observers, mistook it as a double nebula. It wasn’t until the nineteenth century that the spiral form of this object was observed by William Parsons, 3rd Earl of Rosse.

It is for this reason that this galaxy was originally assigned two numbers in the New General Catalogue (NGC): 2903 and 2905. However currently NGC 2905 designates a bright knot located in this galaxy’s northeastern spiral arm. Surprisingly this galaxy is not in Messier’s catalogue despite being just as spectacular as many galaxies on that list.


NGC 2903 is undeniably a stunningly beautiful barred spiral galaxy that never fails to captivate astronomers and space enthusiasts alike. Its distinctive features, including the central star-forming region and its magnificent structural formation, make it a remarkable sight to behold.

From Earth’s perspective, the unparalleled view of this galaxy offers captivating vistas that continue to inspire scientific exploration and discovery.

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Paul Tomaszewski is a science & tech writer as well as a programmer and entrepreneur. He is the founder and editor-in-chief of CosmoBC. He has a degree in computer science from John Abbott College, a bachelor's degree in technology from the Memorial University of Newfoundland, and completed some business and economics classes at Concordia University in Montreal. While in college he was the vice-president of the Astronomy Club. In his spare time he is an amateur astronomer and enjoys reading or watching science-fiction. You can follow him on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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