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.

Another year and my gaze turns to the lovely Pleiades cluster. This is hard for me to image because of the very bright stars and the diffraction spikes and the associated “star” artifacts. I lowered my sub exposure time to 120 seconds but next time I should go even lower. More subs is a good thing especially when dithering like I am. There is 1 hour 50 minutes here, or 55 exposures combined here.

From November first, NGC 1333 is a reflection nebula located in the constellation Perseus. Scattered clouds cut the session short so this one only has an hour and twelve minutes of combined five minute subs. the individual images were not impressive so this one got stretched quite a bit and shows some blotchy space, but this seems like a good target to come back to one day for more!

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.”

Looks like I did this one in 2017 so it was time for another visit! About two hours of integration on this image with 240 second subs at ISO 800. Image is cropped in a bit as this is a smaller target. Worth the look at full resolution by clicking on the picture below. At a distance of about 1227 light years and a visual magnitude of 7.5 it is easily visible in binoculars, and a popular observing target in amateur telescopes.

From NASA:

“Spotted by Charles Messier in 1764, M27 was the first planetary nebula ever discovered. The term “planetary nebula” is a bit of a misnomer based on the nebula’s round, planet-like appearance when viewed through smaller telescopes. The nebula is the result of an old star that has shed its outer layers in a glowing display of color.”