Messier 63 (Sunflower Galaxy)

All Images Copyright Steve Cannistra

Please click here or on image for a higher resolution view.

Magnitude:  8.6
Size: 10 x 6'
Distance: 37 million light years
RA: 13h 15.8m
Dec: 42 degrees 02'

M63 is a beautiful, highly textured spiral galaxy in Canes Venatici.   It was discovered by Pierre Mechain in 1779, who was one of Messier's friends.  This is a relatively bright but small galaxy for a 4" scope, but there's still a good deal of detail to be seen on the higher resolution view.  More information about M63 may be found here.

Photographic Details:
Date:  May 1, 2005
Scope:  Takahashi FS-102 at f6 with TOA-130 focal reducer, on the G11 Losmandy Mount. 
Autoguider:  SBIG STV with e-finder.
Camera:  SXV-H9
Astronomik clear filter.
Exposures:  20 x 5' each; Total exposure duration 100 minutes.
Conditions:  Temperature 50 degrees F; average to poor transparency; average seeing; cloudy for part of the session, high thin clouds for the rest.  I almost gave up but managed to get in 100 minutes of decent subexposures.
No darks, although bias-subtracted flats were used for this image.  Calibration done in ImagesPlus.  Drizzle combined with coefficient sampling of 1.2 in IRIS.  DDP was performed in ImagesPlus.  Subsequent levels and curves adjustments in Photoshop CS (16 bit format).  Final sharpening done with high pass filtering.   I did not dither the subs during image acquisition.  The slight subpixel drift between exposures appears to satisfy the needs of the drizzle algorithm.

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