M 33 - Spiral Galaxy in Triangulum


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Copyright 2008 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:   October 3, 2008     Griffin/Hunter Observatory    Bethune, SC
Instrument:    Canon 40D (modified IR filtering) Digital SLR through Orion 10" f/4.7 Newtonian w/ Baader MPCC  
Focal Ratio:   f/4.7
Guiding:    Auto via SBIG ST-402 through Takahashi FS-102NSV
Conditions:    Visually clear
Weather:    60 - 47 F
Exposure: 425 minutes (7 hours, 5 minutes) total (85 x 5 minutes @ ISO 800)
Filters:    Baader UV/IR block internal to camera
Processing:    Focused and captured,  RAW to TIFF conversion, Digital Development in ImagesPlus v3.50a.  Final tweaking in Photoshop PS2.