Leo Triplet – 11th April 2015
After what feels like months of cloud and just the wrong timing, I managed to get out with the telescope at the weekend and had a go at a new target, the Leo Triplet of Galaxies, also known as the M66 group. It comprises of M66 (top right), M65 (bottom right) and NGC 3628 (left) and is found just under the back end of the Leo constellation.
I took a series of 60 second shots at ISO 1600 with 20 each of the Darks/Bias/Flats calibration shots required and stacked a total of 49 images. I scrapped a few due to star trailing and then a few more were discarded by Deep Sky Stacker during the stacking process.
To be honest, I have over processed the image a little to try and get as much detail out of it as, I have to say, I am amazed I got anything. This is probably the most distant shot I have tried to date. The Triplet is about 35 million light years away. In my other photos, Andromeda is about 2.5m, Bodes and the Cigar Galaxy around 11m – Orion is about 1,300 light years away – s0 practically next door!
35 million light years… that is a hell of a lot of distance for the light to travel from these 3 galaxies onto a square inch camera sensor on my driveway. The mind boggles – well mine does anyway. 1 light year is 9,461,000,000,000 km…..so just multiply that by 35,000,000 and you have an idea of just how far – I checked the wonders of the internet and it is something like:
3.311 x 100,000,000,000,000,000,000 kilometres.
I am looking forward to when I can upgrade some of the equipment and move onto guiding shots and increasing the length of exposure. I should be able to get a lot more detail then.
In the meantime, I’m still pretty chuffed that I managed to locate these three!