Tuesday, February 20th, 2018

A pretty little galaxy


The past month or so I have been collecting photons by remote control using a large telescope at the University of Arizona’s SkyCenter. Although I plan to take one more post-processing pass, I think my first effort is worth sharing with you while I am letting the experts at the PixInsight forum tear it apart.

The total exposure time for color and luminance was 7 hours. The general idea is that longer exposures look farther back in time than shorter ones. If you look closely you will see dozens of tiny galaxies among the stars surrounding the main object in this image. Since all galaxies are about the same size, the tiny ones are much farther away (and back in time). We’re talking billions of light-years.

NGC 3810Click on image and stand back.

Since you asked, I’ll tell you that this galaxy carries the description NGC 3810, is about 50 million light-years distant in the constellation Leo, and that the SkyCenter 32″ Schulman telescope gathers 10,000 times more photons per unit time than my shiny new refractor ‘scope. Okay, quit yawning.

Dave, which at least he is impressed!


2 Responses to “A pretty little galaxy”
  1. Sakib says:

    Epic image! Can’t beat the resolving power of a 32 inch (except with larger telescopes, aperture is everything)! However the statement about longer exposures looking further back in time is slightly incorrect. Longer exposures help show even fainter things and more detail. Some of the fainter things that are revealed in a longer exposure are faint distant background galaxies that are billions of light years away. The difference with a long exposure is that more overall light is collected.

  2. Dave says:

    Hello Sakib,

    You are right, of course. More photons are collected, and the “looking further back in time” statement does have a few holes in it (no pun intended). I hope to be able to do some more imaging with the 32-inch Schulman later his winter.

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