M106 and Companions


Chris Heapy

Macclesfield, UK

Scope: TeleVue NP127is @ native f/l (660mm)
CCD Camera: Atik490EX @ 1×1 binning
Mount: Losmandy G11
Guide: TV Pronto + SX Lodestar
Filter: Baader LRGB and Astrodon 3nM Ha

All data aquired from my suburban back garden observing site in Macclesfield, Cheshire.

The principal subject of this image is the large spiral galaxy M106 (upper-left) which can be seen in the night sky using a small telescope lying below the ‘handle’ of U. Major. However, I’ve offset M106 from the centre of the picture so I could include some of its smaller neighbours ngc4217 (lower-left), ngc4220 (lower-right) and the compact blue galaxy ngc4248 just below M106 itself. In fact if you look closely there are many other tiny galaxies in the background which can be found scattered throughout the image. What made this image a particular challenge was to retain colour detail and colour balance in all objects, and to achieve this aim there are five component colour channels: Red, Green and Blue (for the basic chrominance), and a separate Luminance channel (for fine detail), together with an H-alpha channel (bright red) to enhance the star-forming regions (seen in the galaxy arms). In total this image required 10.7hrs of exposures, and I have to say even longer to process all the data which consisted of 64 sub-exposures!