Friday, March 16, 2018

Unexpected clear skies and a Messier mini-marathon

Last Sunday evening the skies cleared up, to my surprise, well enough to attempt some astro-photography. Of interest to me that evening was the fact that the portion of the night sky that is laden with galaxies was well up in the sky, the region around the constellation Leo, the Lion.
All images taken with a Meade LX200GPS 8" telescope and a Canon T3i DSLR.

First up to image were two globular star clusters:
(Note: click on the images for a little larger view)

Messier object: M 3 - globular star cluster
Notice the various colors of the stars.

Messier object: M 53 - globular star cluster

And then some "open" star clusters:
Messier object: M 35 - open star cluster

Messier object: M 44 - open star cluster
Notice again the colors of the stars

Messier object: M 67 - open star cluster

NGC 2158

Then a host of galaxies, various shapes and sizes!
Messier object: M 64 galaxy
aka "The Black Eye Galaxy"

Messier object: M 65 galaxy

Messier object: M 66 galaxy

Messier object: M 90 galaxy

Messier object: M 95 barred spiral galaxy

Messier object: M 96 galaxy

Messier object: M 98 galaxy

Messier object: M 100 spiral galaxy

The region around M 100 is filled with galaxies!
(satellite streaked the image)

Messier object: M 104 galaxy
aka "The Sombero Galaxy"

NGC 3628 galaxy

Not all galaxies are spiral in nature. Some are called "elliptical" or "lenticular" galaxies". 
They are without any spiral structure. Though not pretty to look at, they are part of the Messier collection of deep sky objects.
Messier object: M 105 elliptical galaxy (upper right)
and the region around it

Messier object: M 60 elliptical galaxy

Messier object: M 85 elliptical galaxy

Messier objects: M 84 and M 86 elliptical galaxies

Messier object: M 87 galaxy

Messier object: M 89 elliptical galaxy

After about 2 hours of imaging 20+ Messier objects and with frost building up on the telescope, I pulled the plug and headed indoors where it was warm!