Some of my favorite astronomical images are collections of galaxies, and my best efforts to find even two fitting within my telescopes field of view has been Bodes and the Cigar galaxies. But maybe I need to spend more time galaxy hunting? My recent capture of C/2019 Y4 (Atlas) with its accidental bonus galaxy inspired me to look for more.
So here’s a recent capture of M106 on the night of May 23 from my backyard. M106 is said to be in the constellation Canes Venatici – the hunting dogs of Boötes, illustrated further down. Frankly, I just don’t see the dogs, and this shot is actually just about half way between Canes Venatici and the Big Dipper. But wow, it’s quite a treasure trove of galaxies that I somehow didn’t realize were within grasp.
There are no less than six galaxies in this shot! I’m pretty pleased to have captured it – you know, as a mere neophyte astronomer (I’ll try to do better)! This is the best of six, ten-minute exposures. The edge-on galaxy NGC-4217 really rounds things out.
|Lens||CPC-800 telescope||F6.3 focal reducer|
|Exposure||600s light, 600s dark||In camera dark frame noise reduction. Auto-guided.|
|Exposures||Single||(Best of six)|
|Temperature||20 C||Non-cooled DSLR sensor|
The in-camera noise reduction means that for each 10 minute exposure, another 10 minute dark frame was captured and each exposure required 20 minutes to complete. I don’t like post-processing dark frames, so I just let the camera do it.
But there’s still noise, as these pictures were taken at around 20 degrees C. And the F6.3 focal reducer resulted in a less than flat field. So I had to sacrifice some spiral arms of M106 while reducing the bulging noise floor to be below perceptible levels. As always, post processing is the part that I need more practice doing. So as time permits, I may try to correct the field flatness using FiJi or some other software. But this is good enough for now.
This illustration shows the location of Canes Venatici nicely (it consists of only two stars). The Big Dipper (Ursa Major) makes a nice reference as well.