Abell 2151 Hercules Galaxy Cluster

Abell 2151 Hercules Galaxy Cluster
Abell 2151 Hercules Galaxy Cluster;  TEC 140 f/7,  ST10XME,  07/24/2009 This cluster of 200 galaxies are 500 million light years from earth Constellation of Hercules
Telescope / Lens TEC 140mm f/7 APO Refractor
Mount Type Astrophysics 1200
 Filters Astrodon LRGB e-series of balanced filters (g-1)
 Film  CCD
 Exposure 4 hours 20 minutes, LRGB 20min,10 min. & 5 min. subs; RGB 4 x 5 min
 Processing CCDSoft, CCDStack, AIP, Photoshop CS2-CS6
 Date  07/24/2009
 Location Snow Peak, S/E of Cottage Grove, Oregon
 Conditions 4658′ elevation, magnitude 6 Skies; Clear

Abell 2151 Hercules Galaxy Cluster

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.

Leo Trio Of Galaxies M65, M66 & NGC 3627

Leo Triplet or M66 Group of Galaxies M 65 (NGC 3623) Top Right M 66 (NGC 3627) Bottom Right
NGC 3628 Left
Telescope / Lens TEC 140mm f/7 Refractor
Mount Type Astrophysics 1200
 Filters Astrodon LRGB
 Film  CCD
 Exposure 165 minutes (2 hours 45 minutes); LRGB (L=120,RGB=15 each) 5 minute exposures
 Processing CCDSoft, CCDStack, AIP, Photoshop CS2
 Date  04/20/2009
 Location Eagles Ridge; 25 Miles South of Dexter, Oregon 122° 42′ 45″ W, 43° 48′ 17″N
Observing site used by Eugene Astronomical Society
 Conditions 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′

M51 NGC 5194 Galaxy ” Whirlpool Galaxy “

M51 NGC 5194 Galaxy
Whirlpool Galaxy M51 NGC 5194

Whirlpool Galaxy M51 NGC 5194

Telescope / Lens TEC 140mm f/7
Mount Type Astrophysics 1200
 Filters Astrodon LRGB
 Film  CCD
 Exposure 180 minutes (3 hours ); LRGB (L=120,RGB=60) 5 min. exposures
 Processing CCDSoft, CCDStack, AIP, Photoshop CS2
 Date  04/20/2009
 Location North Eugene, Oregon (backyard)

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 NGC 5457 Galaxy

Galaxy M101 NGC 5457
Galaxy M101 (NGC 5457) Pinwheel Galaxy 21 million light years 4 hours 20 min. exposure CCD

M101 Galaxy NGC 5457 Pinwheel Galaxy in Ursa Major

Telescope / Lens TEC 140mm f/7
Mount Type Astro-Physics 1200
Camera ST10XME
 Filters Astro-Don LRGB
 Film  CCD
 Exposure LRGB of 4 hours 20 minutes (L=10x20min.; color 5min. sub-frames) -20° C
 Processing CCDSoft, AIP4Win, CCDStack & Photoshop CS2
 Date 7-25-2009
 Location  Snow Peak, 30 miles SE of Cottage Grove, Oregon
122° 52′ 35″ W 43° 31′ 21″ N
 Conditions 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


M31 NGC224 Andromeda Galaxy

M31       NGC224        Andromeda Galaxy     ST10XME (SBIG) LRGB     3.5 Hour Exposure

M 31 (NGC224) Andromeda Galaxy
The Andromeda Galaxy is readily visible from a dark sky location as a fuzzy patch of light covering approximately 3+ degrees or 6 times the width of our moon. Andromeda is approximately 2.5 million light years from Earth and 220,000 light years across. Making it much larger than our own Milky Way galaxy at only 100,000 lights years across. In about 5 billion years both our Milky Way galaxy and Andromeda will collide and begin to coalesce, perhaps evolving into an even larger elliptical type galaxy. This image reveals much detail and numerous globular star clusters and nebulae are visible. Amazing for just a 3.2 diameter refractor, but Thomas Back (TMB) was a primer Telescope Maker and his designs live on.

Telescope / Lens TMB 80 mm f/6 with Tele-Vue .8 reducer f/4.8 384 mm
Mount Type Astrophysics 1200
 Filters Astrodon LRGB e-series  filters (generation 1)
 Film  CCD
 Exposure 210 minutes (3.5 Hours) LRGB (L=120 min (10 min. x 9 & 5 min. x 6) RGB= 1.5 Hours. (10 min. subs)
 Processing CCDSoft, CCDStack, AIP, Photoshop CS2
 Date  09/21/2009
 Location Snow Peak, S/E of Cottage Grove, Oregon 122° 52′ 35″ W, 43° 31′ 21″N
 Conditions 4658′ elevation, magnitude 6 Skies; Clear ; Humidity 65-80% 51 degrees, wind 0-3 M.P.H.

Images below reprocessed with data captured on 10/23/2022 and previous data. 

Click full screen on movie below and view.

M31 2022 by Sam Pitts

M31 movie shows resolution captured with just an 80mm refractor zoomed in to background SC Galaxy PGC 90494/ 2MFGC511

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is M31-cropped-PGC-90494-1-1200x800.jpg

M31-Andromeda Galaxy By: Sam Pitts 10/23/2022 10:03 PM Latitude: 33° 29′ 01.48″ North Longitude: 116° 43′ 19.24″ West Elevation: 4321 feet; Jupiter Ridge #4 Observatory, OCA site, near Anza, CA. Seeing: E Transparency: 5 SQM: 20.78 Bortle: 4 Telescopes / Optics: TMB 80mm f/6 @ f/ 4.8 384mm Mount: AP1200 Camera: SBIG ST10xme CFW10 (KAF3200) FOV: 133.4′ x 89.5′ Filter: L=135min (10 & 5 min) RGB =1.5 Hours (3x10min) Ha= 5x10min (50)-20°c Information: Captured with CCDSoft Processed: with CCDStack, Photoshop CS6 & PWP8 Total exposure time = 275min / 4 ½ hours NOTE: Data from 9/20/2009 included with new data taken 10/23/2022.