M97 and M108

M97 and M108
M97 and M108

M97 is also known as “the Owl Nebula” — you can barely see the two eyes. M108 is known, for some reason, as the “Surfboard Galaxy”. North, by the way, is to the right.

M108 is also the galaxy on the left edge of the images I posted yesterday. The image yesterday was a failed attempt to integrate 14 separate exposures; the image above was a successful attempt to integrate 16 (different) exposures. Yesterday’s failure haunts me — I worked on it for hours. Here’s a cut from the above image of approximately the same aspect:

Edge of M108
Edge of M108

Striking, to me at least, is that there were two stars in this region in yesterday’s image, but only one here. I’m pretty sure that this image is a better reflection of reality…  Perhaps that is a clue about what I was doing wrong!


A colorful mosaic; an extreme magnification of an image of space at the edge of a galaxy. Two prominent stars, some bright spots that are probably just defects in the sensor, or maybe where a cosmic ray hit and produced a single bright flash. Mostly, this is just visual noise. Noise

Here’s a different version, where the individual pixels have been smoothed:


A prettified instantaneous snapshot of the quantum noise roiling across the sensor. Perhaps if I could make a movie, these would be tiny agitated multicolored ripples. But the two stars would remain, hard reminders of a real world, and the brightness at the right edge would also remain, testifying to that galaxy — M108, I’ve heard — off-screen to the right.

Edit: I’ve since discovered that one of those stars must be an image-processing artifact. So much for reality.

IC342, an invisible object

IC342 is a large, bright, nearby galaxy that would be “naked to the invisible eye” if it weren’t for the dust in the way.

Here’s a five-minute exposure, with a gratuitous satellite:

Single exposure of IC342
A single 5-minute exposure of IC342

Do you see a galaxy? Maybe if you squint and sacrifice a pint of Haagen-Dazs?

But curiosity — perhaps more exposures could tease out something?

Here are 41 images like the above, stacked up and combined:

Almost 4 hours on IC342
41 5-minute exposures of IC342, stacked and processed

It looks like a galaxy! I should note that these images were taken on a night with excess moonshine, in hazy suburban skies.

Three of the 41 exposures had satellite trails, but they disappeared in the average.

There is an overall red tint to the photo. It’s probably not natural, but rather an artifact of the anti-pollution filter I am using.