M63 – The Sunflower Galaxyy

 

M63 is a spiral galaxy in Canes Venatici, estimated variously to be between 24 and 36 million light years distant. North is toward to the right in this image.

This is an attempt to "go deep" with a total luminance exposure of nearly seven hours. Color was added later, with 4½ hours total exposure. At first, while processing the image, I was disappointed by the graininess around the galaxy, but later decided this is really the outlying stars, and is "real."

Here is a full-size image from which this was cropped. Careful examination shows dozens of background galaxies.


M63

Equipment
Celestron 9¼" at f/5.6 on a Celestron CGE equatorial mount
SBIG ST-8XM camera
Optec IFW filter wheel with Astrodon TruBalance LRGB filters
Optec TCF-S focuser
Optec Pyxis camera rotator
Imaging and autoguiding with MaxIm DL 4.04
Exposure
Luminance   6.8 hours (82 x 5 min.) binned 1x1, -20°C
Red   1.5 hours (18 x 5 min.) binned 2x2, -20°C
Green   1.5 hours (18 x 5 min.) binned 2x2, -20°C
Blue   1.5 hours (18 x 5 min.) binned 2x2, -20°C
Processing Dark and flat processing in CCDSoft
Average-combined in CCDSoft
Levels and curves, Neat Image, unsharp mask in Photoshop CS
Date and Location Luminance: 12 & 19 February 2005
Color: 4 March 2005
Montpelier, VA    N 37° 49' 12", W 77° 42' 06"