Abell 2151 Hercules Galaxy Cluster is a cluster of approximately 100 galaxies 500 to 650 million light years away within the constellation of Hercules. The brightest galaxy NGC 6050 and is interacting spiral galaxy 24″ x 18″ magnitude 15.4 , also known as NGC 6050A and NGC5060B. Data on this group continues to change as more is learned. Most current information list a general distance of 509 million light years and 300 member galaxies.
I am amazed what a 5.5″ APO Refractor can do and coupled with an SBIG ST10XME CCD (KAF3200 CCD Chip) can really go deep. The camera is one of the most sensitive front illuminated CCD chips available. The quantum efficiency is around 85-86% at peak.
So I attempted my own Deep Field, while setting up remotely here in Oregon for one night. I wanted to go as deep as I could and took over 4 hours of CCD images to capture as many galaxies as possible. My Luminous frames were 5, 10 and 20 minutes. I have counted over 200 plus galaxies in this image. The are so many tiny specs that, when compared to a Hubble Telescope image, they are in fact galaxies. I am confident some of these galaxies are over a billion light years away. In perspective, that would mean a medium sized amateur telescope and CCD went back one twelfth the age of the Universe…
You can see several interacting galaxies that are within the Hercules Cluster. While this is no-where near what larger instruments can resolve with long exposures I am pleased with what a small telescope can accomplish in one night.
Eagles Ridge; 25 Miles South of Dexter, Oregon 122° 42′ 45″ W, 43° 48′ 17″N Observing site used by Eugene Astronomical Society (http://www.eugeneastro.org/)
3411′ elevation, magnitude 6 Skies; Clear
This trio of galaxies located in the rear leg area of the Constellation LEO, the lion. They are situated halfway between the stars Chertan (3.3 magnitude) on top and 78-Iota Leonis magnitude 4.46, on the bottom. This is a small group of galaxies 35 million light years away. Shinning at magnitude 10.3, 9.7 and 9.4 respectfully, they are visible through a good pair of binoculars or small 4-6″ telescope. Wide field eyepieces with larger aperture instruments of 12-16″ really show them well.
NGC 3628 is an edge on galaxy discovered by William Herschel in 1784. Estimated at 300,000 light years across and 35 million light years away. Apparent magnitude of 10.2 and 15′ x 3.6′ (arcminutes) in size. (Lower Right)
M 65 Galaxy NGC 3623 (Upper Right) Apparent magnitude 10.25 and 8.7′ x 2.45′
M 66 Galaxy NGC 3627 (Lower Right) 95,000 light years across, 8.9 mag. 9.1′ x 4.2′
Galaxy M51 NGC 5195 “Whirlpool Galaxy”
The Whirlpool Galaxy M51, is located within the constellation Canes Venatici (Hunting Dogs), just down 3.5° from the last star of the handle of the Big Dipper (URSA Major).
M51 lies 23 million light years from earth and is viewed by amateurs and professionals alike. Several background galaxies are also visible in the image. The Whirlpool Galaxy M51 (14.2 x 9.5 arc minutes) is interacting with it’s companion Galaxy NGC5195 (8.9 x 7.4 arc minutes). Both galaxies have a magnitude of 8.35 & 9.49 respectfully and are not visible to the unaided eye. The Whirlpool Galaxy is approximately 60,000 light year across. They do show up in good quality binoculars.
Charles Messier discovered M51 on October 13,1773. William Parsons, in 1845, using a 72″ reflecting telescope in Ireland, discovered the Whirlpool Galaxy had a spiral structure. It was considered a nebula until Edwin Hubble established that these so called nebula were really separate and distinct galaxies by observing Cepheid variables in the early to mid-twentieth century.
Today a good 150mm (6″) telescope can reveal the spiral structure of M51 the Whirlpool Galaxy. Good quality binoculars will show the Whirlpool Galaxy M51a a fussy spot.
The edge-on galaxy lower right is IC 4263 (UGC8470), magnitude 15.7 and 1.8 x 0.4 arcminutes in size, it lies 18 arc minutes South of M51.
M101 Galaxy NGC 5457 Pinwheel Galaxy in Ursa Major
Telescope / Lens
TEC 140mm f/7
LRGB of 4 hours 20 minutes (L=10x20min.; color 5min. sub-frames) -20° C
CCDSoft, AIP4Win, CCDStack & Photoshop CS2
Snow Peak, 30 miles SE of Cottage Grove, Oregon 122° 52′ 35″ W 43° 31′ 21″ N
4670′ magnitude 6.0 Skies; Clear & Steady
Galaxy M101 (NGC 5457) is located in the constellation Ursa Major (The Great Bear). This spiral galaxy, also called “The Pinwheel Galaxy”, is magnitude 7.86 and is 28.6′ x 26.5′ in size. This shows up well in medium sized scopes at a dark sky site. Galaxy M101 is 21 million lights years distant & 170,000 light years across with 1 Trillion stars. Discovered by Charles Messier March 27, 1781.
The longer you image this galaxy, more details continue to surface while arms continue to grow in size. The hundreds of background galaxies that are visible is astounding. This is because we are looking out and up from the central region of our own Milky Way Galaxy which obscures our view of space. I have estimated that some of these background galaxies are 20-50 times more distant.
M 101 is one of the best face-on spirals visible through amateur telescopes. This galaxy is comparable to the size of our own Milky Way Galaxy. M101 has 5 prominent companion galaxies: NGC 5204, NGC 5474, NGC 5477, NGC 5585 & Holmberg IV. The gravitational interaction of these have shaped M101