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Sombrero Galaxy
Half size lp sombrero galaxy 2x
(572 KB)

Photo taken by the Hubble Space Telescope

A mound of stars rises from the brim of a galactic disk in this image of an edge-on spiral galaxy.

Facts of interest about the image

This galaxy’s prominent features include a wide, flat disk, nearly 2,000 globular clusters and a bulge of stars similar to the Milky Way’s. Also, learn how the appearance of a galaxy differs depending upon the angle from which it is viewed.

Classroom activity

Included is an inquiry-based classroom activity that focuses on the image and text.


This Hubble Space Telescope image shows the spiral Sombrero Galaxy. Viewed nearly edge-on, it reveals a dazzling bulge of central stars much like the ones in our own Milky Way. The text describes the galaxy's prominent features and discusses how galaxies' appearances differ depending on the angle from which they are seen. Includes a classroom activity.

6-12, but the material can be adapted for use in other grades at the teacher's discretion
How to use in the classroom

Teachers can use this lithograph as:

An engagement tool in an inquiry-based lesson. Have students study the image side of the lithograph. Ask them to write down any questions they have about the image. When the students are finished, their questions can be used in a variety of ways:

  • Ask students to find the answers to their questions by reading the back of the lithograph and/or the related materials listed below.

  • Have students exchange papers so that each student has someone else's questions. Then have them find the answers to the other students' questions by reading the back of the lithograph and/or the related materials listed below.

  • Gather the questions into a list by asking students to volunteer to read their questions while you or another student records them on the board or overhead. Ask students to raise their hands if they had the same or a similar question. Count the number of hands raised and record this number next to the question. Once all the student questions have been added to the list, have students search for the answers to their questions in the text on the back of the lithograph. When they complete that task, ask them to decide if each of their questions was answered completely, answered partially, or not answered at all. Go through the original list and place an "A" in front of the questions that were answered completely, a "P" for those that were partially answered, and an "N" for those that were not answered at all. Determine if the most commonly asked questions were also completely answered. Encourage students to do further research to find answers to the unanswered questions.

A content reading tool. Have students read the back of the lithograph and then write a quiz for the class.

An example of an edge-on galaxy. Use the inquiry-based classroom activity called "In Search of Galaxy Orientation" that is included with the PDF lithograph.

Related materials

HubbleSite press release: "Hubble Mosaic of the Majestic Sombrero Galaxy"

Amazing Space resources by topic: Galaxies