Realm of the Galaxies (From Camberwell) – 21st February 2015

Latest batch of captures from the orange skies of Camberwell. A very rewarding session last night with unusually good skies.

The main objective of the evening was to attempt to see some of the more distant galaxy clusters from my home location.

So these are up first. Whilst feint and fuzzy, just being able to see such distant galaxy clusters from my backyard has been a long time aim and to be able to see these at all from the polluted skies of London is very satisfying indeed.

First up: Abell 1367 The Leo Cluster – Part of the Great Wall – A distance of 280 Million Light Years. Other than 6 or 7 bright stars in the image below, all other items are Galaxies, each not dissimilar to our own Milky Way.

The Milky Way (and our local group of galaxies) is heading towards the Great Wall drawn by the gravitational pull of the Great Attractor, a localised concentration of an unimaginable quantum of mass which resides further distant still, at a break neck speed of 22,000,000 KM/Hour but we will never reach it because the fabric of space is expanding by a similar amount due to the measured expansion of the Universe or ‘Dark Flow’, discovered by Edwin Hubble.

Abell 1367 - NGC 3837 - Part of the Great Wall - 21.02.jpg

Second: Copelands Septet or Hickson 57. A group of 8no interacting, possibly merging galaxies, also in the constellation of Leo. (upper right of centre in the capture below). This cluster is at a staggering distance of 480 Million Light Years which means that the light photons observed last night had been travelling the equivalent to 3.5% of the age of the Universe to reach my telescope/camera last night.

Copelands Septet NGC3753 - 21.02.jpg

Third: Abell 1656, also part of the Great Wall. This cluster, along with the Leo Cluster above is part of a Super Cluster known as the Coma Super Cluster with some 1000+ identified Galaxy members. Abell 1656 is some 320 Million Light Years away in the Constellation of Coma Berenices.

NGC4889 - Abell 1656 - Part of Great Wall - 21.02.jpg

Finally: NGC3158 and region – Galaxy Cluster in Leo Minor some 275 Million Light Years away.

NGC3158 region - Galaxy Cluster - Leo Minor 21.02.jpg

On to a few other objects a little closer to home:

Below is a fantastic example of an edge on spiral galaxy – NGC4565. This one is known as the Needle Galaxy and from end to end is approximately 130,000 Light Years in length. NGC4565 has a very bright nuclei and the dark dust lane is also clearly evident in its disc. The Needle Galaxy is in the constellation of Coma Berenices and is between 30-50 Million Light Years away.

NGC4565 Needle Galaxy - 21.02

NGC4565 Needle Galaxy – 21.02

Next up is M81 – Bodes Galaxy. This is a popular target and lies in the Constellation of Ursa Major and is a mere 12 Million Light Years distant. M81 is also a spiral galaxy and lies at an inclined angle to our vantage point. It has an active galactic nuclei that is believed to contain a 70 Million Solar Mass black hole.   Its spiral arms can be made out in the image below.

M81 - Bodes Galaxy - 21.02

M81 – Bodes Galaxy – 21.02

Third: Another favourite, The Whirlpool Galaxy M51 – A face on Spiral interacting with the adjacent smaller galaxy. In the Constellation of Canes Venatici. At a distance of approximately 25 Million Light Years.

M51 Whirlpool Galaxy -21.02

M51 Whirlpool Galaxy -21.02

Closer to home still. Below is a selection of other objects located within our own Galaxy system the Milky Way which were also captured during last nights observing session:

The Owl Nebula / M97 – A Planetary Nebula. Again in Ursa Major some 2100 Light Years away. M97 is thought to be only 8000 years old and was formed from an outfall of gas including Hydrogen, Helium, Nitrogen and Oxygen when an aging star began to run out of fuel and has shed its outer layers. At its centre resides a White Dwarf.

M97 NGC3587 Owl PN - 21.02

M97 NGC3587 Owl PN – 21.02

Below is another favourite – IC434, The Horsehead is a Dark Nebula, some 1500 Light Years away in the Constellation of Orion.

 Horsehead IC434 - 21.02
Below is Globular Cluster M3. Made up of some 500,000 stars and thought to be over 8 Billion Years old and one of the best examples of this type of object in the Northern Hemisphere. M3 is approximately 34,000 Light Years away.
M3 Globular -21.02

M3 Globular -21.02


January Deep Sky Bonanza

A selection of video captures from recent astronomy antics.

Eskimo Nebula NGC2392 – A Lovely green planetary nebula in the Constellation of Gemini. A medium sized star which is shedding outer layers of gas as it nears the end of its life.

Eskimo Nebula - NGC 2392 - 24.01.15

Eskimo Nebula – NGC 2392 – 24.01.15

Another shot of Hubble’s variable nebula, see last weeks post for details.

Hubble's Variable Nebula 24.01

The Flame Nebula NGC 2024 – Clouds of Hydrogen gas illuminated by high energy Ultra Violet light from  nearby star Alintak (out of view), the east star in the belt of Orion.

The Flame Nebula NGC 2024

The Flame Nebula NGC 2024

The Horsehead Nebula IC 434, again in Orion. This was taken with a 72mm refractor telescope with a narrow band HA filter to cut out some of light pollution. It is a stack of several 30 second frames.

The Horsehead Nebula IC 434

The Horsehead Nebula IC 434

Bodes Galaxy M81 in Ursa Major, named after Johann Bode who discovered it in 1774. M81 is 12 million Light Years away. The largest member in a cluster of 33 interacting galaxies known as the M81 group. The centre of the galaxy harbours a 70 million solar mass Black Hole! Hard to see but can you make out a spiral arm?

Bodes Galaxy M81

Bodes Galaxy M81

M82 – Again in Ursa Major, a star burst galaxy and in a gravitational tryst with M82 above along with 32 other galaxies in the M81 group . Apparently 5 times more luminous than the Milky Way. Rapid star formation in the last 100million years or so is attributable to the gravitational influence of nearby M81.



The Whirlpool Galaxy M51, Canes Venatici – A face on spiral galaxy discovered by Charles Messier in 1773. Currently interacting with companion galaxy NGC5195. The first to be classified as a Spiral Galaxy. Some 25 Million Light Years away, M51 is approximately 60,000 Light Years across.

M51 The Whirlpool Galaxy

M51 The Whirlpool Galaxy

The Leo Triplet – Three interacting galaxies located in the Constellation of Leo. Some 35 Million Light Years distant.

The Leo Triplet

The Leo Triplet

For comparison, below is an image from the European Southern observatory of the Leo Triplet:

Leo Triplet. Credit: ESO/INAF-VST/OmegaCAM

Leo Triplet. Credit: