Saturday, April 1, 2017

The Leo Triplet

The Leo Triplet (a.k.a. the M66 Group) is a small group of galaxies approximately 35 million light years away in the constellation of Leo.  It consists of the three spiral galaxies M65, M66, and NGC 3628.  From Earth NGC 3628 is on its side and resembles a hamburger and so it is also known as the Hamburger Galaxy.  This galaxy group is very close to the M96 Group captured a couple of days prior.

I collected data over three nights, the first night being the best.  I did a test on the data and decided to share it for anyone who is interested.  As I mentioned the first night (3-22-17) the sky clarity was good. Figure 1 shows a typical sub-frame from that night.

Figure 1 - Decent sub-frame 3-22-17

On day two (3-23-17) I had a mixture of decent sub-frames and some with a small amount of red tint and on day three (3-29-17) most of the sub-frames reddened and it was more severe.  Figure 2 shows a typical sub-frame.

Figure 2 - Typical sub-frame 3-29-17

Obviously the sky was not as good as I had though on the second or third nights so I had a decision that most of have to make, whether to use or not use this data.  I checked the sub-frames carefully in Adobe bridge and deleted any frame with streaking or any other defect (except the red color).  I did two versions with Deep Sky Stacker (DSS) and then processed them in the same way with PS, Astronomy Tools, and LR. Figure 3 shows the Triplet using the 55 frames from 3-22-17 while Figure 4 shows the Triplet with the 111 frames the three nights.

Figure 3 - Processed Image 55 Frames from 3-22-17

Figure 4 - Processed Image 111 Frames from 3-22-17, 3-23-17, 3-29-17

The conclusion, based on my results, is that the additional frames added to thew quality to the image rather than hinder it.  So as long as the frames are sharp (no streaking) and the stars are not masked by clouds or pollution then they are usable, at least for galaxies.

Figure 5 - M65 Crop

Figure 6 - M66 Crop

Figure 7 - NGC 3628 (The Hamburger Galaxy) Crop

M65, M66, NGC3628 (The Hamburger Galaxy)
Location: Happy Frog Observatory, Monroe, CT
Date: 3-22-17, 3-23-17, 3-29-17
Camera: Canon EOS Rebel T3i(a), Backyard EOS
Telescope: Orion ED80 80mm
f/7.5 Apochromatic Refractor Telescope
Barlow: None
Focal Length: 600mm
Focal Reducer: Orion 0.8x Focal Reducer for Refractor Telescopes
Mount: Orion Sirius EQ-G GoTo Telescope Mount
Filter: Astrodon UV/IR
Autoguiding: QHY-5L-II-M attached to an Agena 50mm Guide Scope with Helical Focuser
Exposure: 55 x 90s, 30 x 90s, 26 x 90s
ISO: 1600
Temp: -1.0 C
Post Processing: Deep Sky Stacker, Photoshop, Lightroom, Gradient Exterminator, Astronomy Tools.

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