May 2018

This month, four section members sent in eight images of deep sky objects;  three of these images are of galaxies, as might be expected in Spring, when the view out of the plane of our galaxy is favourable.

David Davies of Cambridge used data from two telescopes (a Richey Chretien 8″ and an APM 107mm refractor) with a QSI 583 camera plus red green and blue filters to produce an image of interacting galaxies M65 and M66 in the constellation of Leo.  Together with galaxy NGC 3628 (not in this image) they form a galaxy grouping commonly known as the Leo Triplet, which is about 35 million light years from the Earth.

In this image, M65 is on the right;  both galaxies show evidence of past gravitational encounters with their neighbours.

M65, M66


Paul Brierley of Macclesfield used an Altair Astro 115mm EDT f7 APO refractor and Atik 428 EX camera to obtain this image of globular cluster M13 in the constellation of Hercules.


M13 contains many hundreds of thousands of stars, and lies about 22,000 light years from the Earth.


Mark Beveridge captured four different types of deep sky object from his location in Thainstone.

M3 is a globular cluster in the constellation of Canes Venatici, M16 is the Eagle emission nebula in Serpens Cauda.   M57 is the Ring planetary nebula in Lyra;  M102 is an edge – on lenticular galaxy in Draco, called the Spindle Galaxy.  Mark used a 200mm Celelestron Edge f10.4 SCT and an SXR – 814 camera plus red green and blue filters for these images.



M102 (NGC 5866)

The identification of this particular galaxy (also known as NGC 5866) as M102 has not been without controversy in the past.  Pierre Mechain, colleague of Charles Messier, claimed that M102 was an accidental duplication of M101.  There are four more galaxies which are candidates for M102, however NGC 5866 is most likely to be the object described (by Mechain!) in the Messier catalogue of 1781.

Steve Norrie of Fife used a Celestron 9.25 SCT plus a StarlightXpress Trius 694 mono camera with red green and blue filters to image M51, the Whirpool Galaxy in the constellation of Canes Venatici, and M57, the Ring planetary nebula in Lyra.


M57 is about 2,300 light years from the Earth and the rate of expansion of the nebula has been measured as around 1 arc second every one hundred years.  The central star is a magnitude 15 white dwarf so is very difficult for visual observers to see even when using a large diameter telescope.


Dave Finnigan