The 100 Galaxies Astrophoto

M84/M86 and part of the Virgo Cluster

This image of the M84-M86 area of the Virgo Cluster is fascinating to explore. There are, or course, four very bright galaxies in the image (M84, M86, NGC4402 and NGC 4388). But with just a bit more attention you can make out a half dozen other smaller but bright galaxies in the 800 pixel wide image you see above. However if you click on the image above and then expand that image to its full 3326 pixel wide format you will see many, many more galaxies (114 of them are labeled). Every five seconds that original sized image will show arrows and names for five seconds. Take some time to scroll around this large image and see how many of the galaxies you can see.

Here are some tips. Some of the galaxies are of a type that are easy to recognize, such as spiral galaxies like the bright galaxies NGC4402 and 4388. But a large number of galaxies in the image are elliptical (more round shaped) like the bright galaxies M84 and M86. As you look for dimmer and dimmer elliptical galaxies there comes a point that you need to develop a sense for what is a faint fuzzy (galaxy) and what is just a dim star. The source I used to find the names displayed is the software package TheSkyX Pro. If you own that product it might be fun to bring up the M84/M86 field and zoom in to match the field of the image and get all manner of details about these galaxies.

This is a very exciting image to study. Not that long ago in astronomy getting an amateur photograph that showed this many galaxies in one photo would not have been possible. But with  the introduction of increasingly sensitive and high-resolution astronomical CCD cameras, along with advanced optics that can produce wide field shots at fast f/ratios but still not exhibit field curvature (which makes the stars and galaxies near the edge distorted) means we can get shots like this one.

Equipment for this shot: QSI 583 astronomical CCD camera (with a Kodak KAF-8300 chip) mounted on a Celestron EdgeHD SCT 14″ telescope. The camera was mounted at the Fastar focus with a Hyperstar f/1.9 lens. Exposure time was 20 minutes (30 seconds each of L,R,G and B filters times ten).

14 Responses to The 100 Galaxies Astrophoto

  1. Jim Benet says:

    I think the image that you have displayed here is extraordinarily amazing. You have done an excellent job of capturing and identifying all those galaxies, many of them being 17th and 18th magnitude. I wonder if there could be any more in that field? Nice job! Thanks for sharing this on line.

  2. Pingback: The 100 Galaxies Astrophoto Added | Jupiter Ridge Observatory

  3. Warren Marquette says:

    Great deep image of my favorite area – Any identification for the companion galazy to M86 – just to the NE?

  4. bill warden says:

    great field russ
    thanks for sharing it

  5. Laura says:

    Love it. Amazing. So glad you labelled it as well.

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