March 13, 2016

M82, M81

The big spiral galaxy on the left is M82.  The much larger one on the right is M81.  To the right of M81 is another dim spiral galaxy, PGC 28731, probably a satellite of M81.  On the bottom right is NGC 3077, classed as a spiral but looking quite elliptical.  Other, smaller galaxies abound.  Just below M81 is Holmberg IX, a small satellite of M81.  Just below and to the right of M82 is PGC 3097961, magnitude 17.60 smudge of an elliptical.  Between M82 and M81 at the very top of the frame is UGC 5247, a faraway spiral.

Just above and to the left of M82 is a congregation of tiny smudges that constitute a cluster of galaxies.  The brightest members are dimmer than 17 magnitude: PGC 2732102 and PGC 2732338.

Scattered throughout the area are clouds of dust in our own galaxy.  Galactic cirrus, we call them, but they are relatively local.

The M81-82 group we suspect is about 12 million light years away.  The galaxy clusters above and left of M82 may be hundreds of millions of light years away.

This image is 68x900" of Luminance from the dark, dark skies of Deep Sky West.  The image has been re-sized to 50% less to handle the blog format.

March 6, 2016

Messier 78 (March 2016)

This area is one reason I signed up with Deep Sky West.  There is no way to collect this kind of data from where I live, and I don't have the means to travel to a site like that one.  So I receive the raw data from them, just as if it came from my own scope and camera, then I process it.

This bit of nebulosity is called  M78, a space in the constellation Orion northeast of the three belt stars and just southwest of the Spook Nebula, LDN 1622.  I've always been fascinated by this area.  The red nebulosity near the left is emission, but the rest is just reflection from the young, blue-white stars in the area.  Of course, new stars are forming here.

This image is a combination of many hours of exposure: 22x900" Luminance; 16x900" Blue; 19x900" Green; 18x900" Red.  This is from DSW's FSQ rig.  Here is the Luminance stack, with some processing:

Messier 66 (March 2016)

Here is galaxy Messier 66, in the constellation Leo.  The galaxy is close for a galaxy, roughly 32,000,000 light years away.  Notice that the galaxy is not symmetrical. It has been pulled, perhaps by nearby galaxy NGC 3628 (which also appears disturbed) or perhaps by M65 (which appears undisturbed).  Anyway, these galaxies are close and bright, and I've imaged all three several times, but never at 2300mm focal length, as this is.  Even so, seeing was not optimal that night, and I've shrunk the image down about 40% to account for this.  It is still a fun image.  This is 13x720" with the SXVF-H9 camera through the CC290 telescope, guided on the NJP.  (There were two reflection streaks across the left half of the image.  I did my best to erase them, but faint signs of them still exist.  I'm not sure where they came from, but I am fairly confident they were not in space.)