M33 - Spiral Galaxy in Triangulum


Copyright 2010 Hap Griffin

M 33 is one of four other galaxies which, along with our own Milky Way galaxy, make up what is known as the "Local Group."  On very dark nights, it can be glimpsed with the naked eye by experienced observers and covers an area almost four times the size of the full moon.

M 33 has long been known to astronomers, being first cataloged before 1654 and later "re-discovered" by Charles Messier in 1764.  Due to its apparent size and proximity, 3 million light-years (just next door in galactic terms!), it has been thoroughly studied and mapped.  Several very large HII regions of star formation have been cataloged, along with 112 variable stars, 4 novae, 25 Cepheid variable stars, and a large X-ray source.  


Date/Location:    November 6, 2010     Griffin/Hunter Observatory    Bethune, SC
Camera: QSI 583wsg
Filters: Astrodon E Series Generation 2 LRGB
CCD Temperature: -20 C
Instrument:    Takahashi FSQ-106N
Focal Ratio:   f/5
Mount: AP-1200
Guiding:    Auto via the QSI camera's built in Off-Axis Guider mirror and an SBIG ST-402 Guider
Conditions:    Cold and clear
Weather:    50 - 26 F, still
Exposure: 410 minutes total (17 x 10 min Luminance, 8 x 10 min each in RGB)
Capture: CCDAutopilot 4 w/ Maxim DL Camera Control, focused automatically w/ FocusMax   
Processing:    Frame calibrations and stacking with ImagesPlus v3.80.  Frame alignment in Registar 1.0.  Finishing in Photoshop CS4.