NGC4565, the Needle Galaxy


There are at least three other galaxies visible in this picture. IC3571 was a dim, dim smudge on the left side of NGC4565 that I tried hard to preserve as I processed the image. But alas, it did not survive the harsh contrast enhancement steps.

Here is an annotated full frame. Some of the other galaxies in the region are visible.

Annotated full-frame view
Annotated full frame

On another topic, yesterday I took possession of hearing aids for the first time. (As I type this, I hear keyboard clicks — I didn’t notice them before.)

It turns out that I have insurance coverage for hearing aids, so I got good ones — Bluetooth enabled, with extensive customization controlled via a smartphone app. They work quite well as music earbuds, at least for certain types of music. Solo guitar sounds fantastic. Noise-canceling features I haven’t explored yet. I can’t get over how loud everything is, especially the coffee grinder. Persimmon the Parrotlet is a terror now — I used to think she (it?) was a quiet bird, but now I know the volume was in the high frequencies.

Here’s Persimmon chewing on a chicken bone:

Persimmon eating a chicken leg
Persimmon gnawing on a chicken bone

We thought she would be interested in the watermelon scraps.

The Whale and the Crowbar (or Hockey Stick)

NGC4631 and NGC4656 — The Whale and the Crowbar (or Hockey Stick) Galaxies

Another try. Slightly better processing and a dozen more five-minute exposures added. The tiny fuzzy ball above the whale is a companion dwarf elliptical galaxy, NGC4627. All three galaxies are about the same distance from us, and they interact. Hence the odd shapes.

Iris Nebula, NGC7023

Iris Nebula
Iris Nebula

Reprocessed with yet more data. I don’t know that this is significantly better than my previous results ( here and here and here ). But NGC7023 is a fascinating object, and I will probably return to it for the rest of my life. As always, the images available from Wikipedia are worth a pause.



IC2574 is the faint smudge in the center, 13 million light-years away. A dim dwarf spiral galaxy. According to Wikipedia, approximately 90% of its mass is dark matter.

Taken with a 110mm F/7 refractor. Total exposure time is about 13 hours.

Annotated IC2574
An annotated version




Sometimes referred to as “the Sunflower Galaxy”. This image has about 7 hours total exposure time.  It is quite a pretty galaxy — if you zoom in (ie, click on the picture), it looks like a swirl of altocumulus clouds on a spring day.




M102 is a difficult object for my setup and conditions. It is, apparently, known as the “Spindle Galaxy”.

A five or six times blowup of the above image does manage to show the “spindle”, barely:

This Hubble image gives a better idea of how it got the name.

Another M101


I am slowly accumulating more time on M101. This image is over 8 hours total exposure, under generally poor conditions — not quite double the previous version. It’s a good thing the telescope mostly runs unattended.

The blurred spot in the lower right corner is NGC 5474, a true physical companion of M101 that is classified as a “peculiar dwarf galaxy”.

The above image is without noise reduction processing.

Here’s a version with PixInsight’s “Multiscale Linear Transform” noise reduction:

M101 with PixInsight noise reduction

And here it is with Gimp’s noise reduction algorithm:

M101 with Gimp noise reduction

It is hard to tell the difference. A large-screen monitor is probably helpful.

[Edit: I tried looking at this post on my phone. The experience is just not the same as on my desktop monitor. Well, duh.]

Heroes of another kind

Posted on wall at Castle Wertheim
Posted on the walls of Castle Wertheim, high above the town of Wertheim

April Fools is a widespread tradition, so I am suspicious of this placard posted on the walls of Castle Wertheim.

Fountain in Seville

Accidents happen.  The stop in Seville was less than ideal: dock in Cadiz, catch an early morning bus, then a walking tour of a couple of high points of Seville. Back to the bus, back to the ship. I don’t remember taking this picture, but there are many other images of the area on my camera, so I must have. Anyway, I thought it was nice:


It’s a color image, though it looks B&W.

La Palma

La Palma is rugged.

One of the finest astronomical sites on Earth hides serenely above those clouds.

The people of La Palma are proud of their astronomical connection — here’s a signpost from a roadside viewpoint:


There are about 20 large telescopes on the top of the North Peak.

On September 19, 2021, a major volcanic eruption took place on La Palma.  Lava flows wiped out a relatively small part of the island, but our guide told us ash falls covered a large area — “like very fine black flour”. We didn’t see any sign of the ash seven months later. The eruption wasn’t a severe problem for the large telescopes, though a couple of instruments were affected.

La Palma is also very green.

Hikers in a deep green canyon

It’s a short hike to the waterfall up ahead:

Note the green metal railings, the rectangular cave mouth, and the concrete structures going back further up the canyon– this is a developed park, not a wilderness area. The canyons are deep and rugged but still modified by human occupation.

This canyon has been developed as a source of fresh water but retains a wild scenic character — a mix of community park, water project, and wilderness area. Further down the trail was an open rectangular water tank, 10′ x 10′ x 6′ deep, with the same damp old concrete.

On the trail to the waterfall

Down the canyon, the almost vertical walls were terraced.

Terraces in the canyon wall

(The picture is misleading. It’s perhaps a hundred feet from the flowers in the foreground to the trees across the canyon; the canyon floor is a hundred feet below.)

A mile or so further, the canyon widens, and the terraces are well-tended:

People have been living here for a long time.

Well, there was more, but this post is too long already. La Palma was my favorite of our stops. It is unlikely we will ever be there again, but if I had another life, I would like to spend more time there.