At about 9,800,000 light-years’ distance, the Maffei 1 Galaxy (named after Paolo Maffei) is part of the nearest group of galaxies just outside of our “Local Group”. It  is a massive elliptical galaxy (and may be the closest) in the constellation Cassiopeia but appears in our sky heavily obscured by the Milky Way’s stars and dust (known as the Zone of Avoidance because of the difficulty seeing what lies beyond). If it were not obscured, it would be one of the largest (about 3/4 the size of the full moon), brightest, and best-known galaxies in the sky.

To me it seems ghostly, glowing through the foreground stars which hints to an even more massive real size. Two hours and 48 minutes of good frames brought this dim galaxy to life on a calm warm September night with good visibility after the crescent moon set. The image presented here is near full frame for my current 600mm fl setup with a crop sensor stock DSLR.

Maffei 1

Processed a bit more:

Maffei 1 more processed

Last year around this time I first captured this area centered between the Deer Lick Group on the left and the Stephan’s Quintet on the right. I came back to this location on a warm evening waiting for the first quarter moon to set and was able to stack 2 hours and 42 minutes of 360 second subs. The dominate galaxy is 40 to 50 million light years distant while the lesser  ones are perhaps ten times as far away.

Cropped image:

Full image captured:

A nice small group of galaxies each showing a very different type from April 20th.

I found these on Stellarium and know them just by the catalog numbers but I really like this group. A small scale target for my setup but a fine subject for a return visit when I have better gear perhaps.

       I had several dark nights with the telescope last month but only just got around to updating my astrophotography blog site. After submitting the image to the online service http://nova.astrometry.net/ I identified them as NGC5981, NGC5982 and NGC5985 top to bottom also known as the Draco Trio as they are located in the belly of the dragon constellation. The close grouping of an edge on, an elliptical and a spiral galaxy makes a nice portrait.

 

From April 17th.
The Splinter Galaxy. Conditions were about as good as it gets and this faint object (Magnitude: 11.1) is shown as the result of nearly three hours of exposures each six minutes long. Note the two adorable little galaxies in the lower right corner. Little of course is somewhat relative. For all I know they might be bigger than our galaxy!
I watched dozens of Starlink satellites (at least I THINK they were satellites) march in formation across the sky and by some chance they missed running over my target. Not too happy to think these will be the new normal in the early night sky.
From the internets: “NGC 5907 is a spiral galaxy located approximately 50 million light years from Earth. It has an anomalously low metallicity and few detectable giant stars, being apparently composed almost entirely of dwarf stars. It is a member of the NGC 5866 Group.”

From April 16th. The Covid-19 sort of took over life there for a while so just now getting caught up on some recent images.
The “Blowdryer Galaxy” also known as M100 was captured two nights ago as the main attraction but a dozen other galaxies can be found without much trouble in the larger frame which is essentially the full usable frame of my current setup.
Borrowed from Jim Gardepe is the following description:
“The galaxy Messier 100, a.k.a. the “Blowdryer Galaxy” (who thinks up these names?) is one of the largest and brightest members of the Virgo Cluster of galaxies. It is located in the constellation Coma Berenices. Messier 100 is an example of a “grand design” intermediate spiral galaxy. It is approximately 55 million light-years] distant from Earth and has a diameter of 107,000 light years.
Messier 100 is considered a starburst galaxy, with the strongest star formation activity concentrated in its center – where intense star formation has been underway for about 500 million years.”

Taken a week ago on the 21st on a rather nice dark night is this grouping of galaxies appearing in the constellation Virgo. They form a smooth curve in the sky and seven of them seem to be moving together towards our galaxy. 

We had some light wind as evidenced while stacking the subs which varied in quality over a wide range . The slightest vibration will upset the tracking a bit and result in loss of clarity on a given single image. I tossed one that had a big satellite trail and around six of the lowest ranking ones. I hate loosing subs but some sacrifice is needed to generate the best results! 

Markarian's Chain

After a significant pause I was finally able to get out to the telescope the night before and capture this image of M106. After rebuilding the astroshed computer and reloading software this was the first actual run so there were a few bugs to work out. The same goes for my desk computer were I processed this image after reinstalling software and getting things set up again. It never fails to amaze me that while looking at one galaxy, there are several other galaxies photo-bombing! The night sky is a constant reminder of our place in the universe and how precious our existence is here on this pale blue dot.

“Despite carrying his name, Messier 106 was neither discovered nor catalogued by the renowned 18th century astronomer Charles Messier. Discovered by his assistant, Pierre Méchain, the galaxy was never added to the catalogue in his lifetime. Along with six other objects discovered but not logged by the pair, Messier 106 was posthumously added to the Messier catalogue in the 20th century.”

M106
Looks like several other galaxies photo bombed the main attraction!

Maffei 1 is a massive elliptical galaxy in the constellation Cassiopeia. Once believed to be a member of the Local Group of galaxies, it is now known to belong to its own group, the Maffei Group. It was named after Paolo Maffei, who discovered it and the neighboring Maffei 2 in 1967 via their infrared emissions.”

In the North Eastern sky I found this galaxy in Stellarium (planetarium software). In the 300 second subs it was rather dim but after stacking 23 subs it was visible at least. Masking the stars and pushing the data hard I came up with this image.

Last night was the first clear night without a moon in a while. Cold weather with single digit nightime temperatures wound up below zero by early morning. I used almost two and a half hours of 360 second subs for this image.

“NGC 891 is an edge-on unbarred spiral galaxy about 30 million light-years away in the constellation Andromeda. It was discovered by William Herschel on October 6, 1784.”

“it’s one of the best examples of an edge-on galaxy in the sky although a challenging object for small scopes. Due to its attractiveness and scientific appeal, NGC 891 was selected on October 12, 2005 to be the first light image of the Large Binocular Telescope at Mount Graham International Observatory in Arizona. In 2012, it was again selected as first light image, this time for the Discovery Channel Telescope (DCT) Large Monolithic Imager at the Lowell Observatory in Happy Jack, Arizona.”