Although I have captured this one a couple of times I found myself drawn to try something a bit different. There was a crescent of a moon in the sky and the evening started out rather more breezy than I would like so I thought I should try a brighter target in the dark portion of the sky I tend to gravitate toward. I reduced the exposure time to 200 seconds and this image is a stack of 43 frames. That is the most frames I have used so far with my simple DSLR camera prime setup still on the 6″ astrograph. The results are indeed better than my March 7th 2018 image.
Near New Moon on March 13th I was out again taking advantage of this rare string of clear nights. I made my longest run of 6 minute subs totaling nearly four hours of integration. A low aparent brightness target, NGC 4395 proved challenging to process even with the longer exposures and lots of them. This is a minimal crop so it presents my usual full field indicating a good sized object just rather dim in a dark patch of sky.
I stumbled onto this location on March 10th with some great dark sky conditions. The distant and faint group of four galaxies in close relationship (from our vantage point) is in the center but numerous other galaxies can be located in the larger field. I ran with 330 second subs for a total of 2 hours and 28 minutes (at ISO 800 as usual).
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.
Processed a bit more:
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.
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.
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!