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Don Reed | all galleries >> Galleries >> Astrophotography > M63 - the Sunflower Galaxy, with a new telescope
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3-Jun-2019 Don Reed

M63 - the Sunflower Galaxy, with a new telescope

This is the Sunflower Galaxy, about 37 million light years from Earth in the direction of the constellation Canes Venatici. I photographed it on a night with average seeing and poor transparency, amid passing high thin clouds, with a new telescope, a Celestron Rowe-Ackerman Schmidt Astrograph (RASA).

The RASA has very fast f/2 optics, and yields a field of view 3.4 degrees wide with my ZWO ASI071MC Pro camera. The Sunflower Galaxy's apparent size is just 12.6 x 7.5 arc-minutes, so it is not a good target for my camera on the wide field RASA, but on this night it occupied one of the few parts of the sky that was substantially free of clouds. I was able to collect 45 thirty second exposures before clouds covered it as well.

There are two additional faint galaxies visible in this frame, at the 9:30 and 2:30 positions. The shapes of the brightest stars in the frame are distorted by diffraction caused by the camera's data and power cables, since the camera mounts on the front of the RASA. I will work out a way to either eliminate the diffraction artifacts or channel the spikes in more pleasing directions.

The brightest stars in this frame are not visible to the unaided eye, at around magnitude 7. Most of the many stars seen in this image are magnitude 10 to magnitude 14. The very fast optics of the RASA will pick up many faint stars in fairly short exposures.

Hopefully there will be much more to come from the RASA in the near future.

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