M63 – Sunflower Galaxy

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The M95 galaxy, the Sunflower Galaxy (also known as NGC 5055), is located in the constellation Canes Venatici. It is a spiral galaxy 29 million light years away. The galaxy is active (weakly), which means it is producing stars in the red regions. Those regions are hydrogen emissions (hydrogen-alpha).

Imaging Details

  • Workflow: LRGB+HA
  • Lum Filter: 200*180
  • Red Filter: 48*300 seconds
  • Green Filter: 48*300 seconds
  • Blue Filter: 48*300 seconds
  • Hydrogen-Alpha: 18*500 seconds
  • Binning: 1×1
  • Total Imaging Time: 25 hours
  • Imaging Dates (11 nights):
    • 5/5/2021
    • 5/8/2021
    • 5/10/2021
    • 5/12/2021
    • 5/13/2021
    • 5/15/2021
    • 5/17/2021
    • 5/31/2021
    • 6/4/2021
    • 6/5/2021
    • 6/7/2021

M63 Imaging Notes

For M63, my plan was to try and capture a lot of data to see how good of an image I could create in my heavily light polluted skies (Bortle 7). Plus, my telescope is running at F/10, which means I need to capture more frames in order to create a decent image.

Based on this, I’ve determined that in order to create a good final image, I need (at a minimum) the following number of frames per filter for galaxies (of course this is all influenced by the brightness of the galaxy and the transparency of the sky)

  • LUM: 100
  • RGB: 36
  • HA: 18

Some other quick tips on this galaxy

  • This galaxy also has some active star forming regions, which show up nicely with a Hydrogen-Alpha filter.
  • I’ve finally corrected my issue with flats. I purchased a tracing tablet, which not only creates an evenly illuminated light source, but it also blocks out unwanted, stray light. This means I don’t have to capture my flats in the middle of the night.
  • I also learned some new processing tricks that helped with the integration of my LUM and Hydrogen-Alpha frames. Moving forward, I will avoid using the LRGB and NRGBCombination functions. I will document the new process in the near future.

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