Updated: Oct 28, 2019

The Sombrero galaxy is a very small world, 30% the size of our Milky Way. It lies about 30 million light years away from our home, which is actually not that far. The Sombrero holds the biggest supermassive black hole every recorded in any nearby galaxy. This also impacts its brightness, as it is the brightest galaxy in a 10 megaparsec radius of the Milky Way!

We spent a little more than 3 hours on it. We did 3 minute exposures instead of our usual 6, because of how small and bright it is.

You can see how we captured this target in Episode 6 of Galactic Hunter!


Camera: Canon 7D Mk II

Telescope: Orion 8" Astrograph f/3.9

Mount: Atlas EQ-G motorized Mount

Coma: Baader MPCC Coma Corrector MkIII

Guiding: Starshoot Autoguider - 50mm Guide Scope

Processing: Pixinsight


Total Exposure Time: 3 hours and 9 minutes

Exposure Time per frame: 3 minutes

63 lights - 15 Darks - 15 Bias

ISO: 400


The Sombrero galaxy can be seen from extremely dark sites with binoculars or telescopes, but is not an impressive target to look at. With a telescope of 10 inches or more, you may be able to distinguish the dark dust lane in front of the galaxy’s bright bulge.

To locate it, look for the constellation of Virgo and find its brightest star, Spica. M104 can be spotted just 11.5 degrees west of the bright star.

  • Getting farther from us at 1,000 km/s

  • Has a supermassive black hole with a mass of more than 1 billion suns

  • Brightest galaxy in a 10 megaparsec radius


Below you can see one of our single shots of M104, which was stacked with its 61 other buddies to make our main image above! Notice how boring the 3 bright stars on the right look... Read more about them below.

The real challenge lies in the photo processing, as you must be sure to not make the core of the galaxy too bright otherwise you will end up with an image that looks overexposed.

Be sure to not only focus on the galaxy, but on those beautiful colorful stars on the right. This colorful asterism is called "The Jaws".

Galactic Hunter Episode #6 - The Sombrero Galaxy

The Sombrero Galaxy was the focus of the 6th episode of Galactic Hunter!

Discover how we captured this bright target below.

Final Thoughts

The Sombrero Galaxy is a tiny target that may seem difficult to capture for beginners, but its brightness and rather easy processing makes it really great for any amateur astrophotographer!

Our Telescope tracking M104 during the filming of the Episode.


The Astrophotographer's Guidebook

Description: Discover 60 Deep Sky Objects that will considerably improve your Imaging and Processing skills! Whether you are a beginner, intermediate, or advanced astrophotographer, this detailed book of the best deep sky objects will serve as a personal guide for years to come! Discover which star clusters, nebulae, and galaxies are the easiest and most impressive to photograph for each season. Learn how to find each object in the night sky, and read our recommendations on imaging them in a quick and comprehensive way. Each target in this guide contains our advice on imaging, photos of expected results, and a useful information table. We've also included a few cool facts about each target, a map to find it in the night sky, and more!

The Astrophotographer's Journal

Description: The Astrophotographer’s Journal is a portable notebook created for the purpose of recording observations, cataloguing photographs, and writing down the wonderful memories created by this hobby. This book contains more than 200 pages to memorialize your stargazing and imaging sessions, as well as a useful chart on the last pages to index exciting or important notes. Read back on the logs to see how much progress you have made through the months, the problems you overcame, and the notes taken to improve in the future. Just as the pioneers of astronomy did in their time, look up and take notes of your observations as you are the author of this star-filled journey.

The Constellations Handbook

Description: The Constellations Handbook is a logical guide to learning the 88 constellations. Learning the constellations is difficult. Remembering them is even harder. Have you ever wanted to look up to the night sky, name any pattern of stars and be able to tell their stories? This book groups the constellations in a logical order, so that the reader can easily learn them by their origin, and see how their stories interact with one another as a group. The last pages of this book include an index of all 88 constellations, each with a slot where you can write your own personal tips and tricks in order to memorize them with ease. The Constellations Handbook is not just another guide listing all the constellations from A to Z and their location, it is the perfect companion for stargazing, and a learning journey through the ages.

#astronomy #astrophotography #messiercatalog #messier #galaxy #nebula #cluster #stars #space #galactichunter #nevada #lasvegas #canon #orion #telescope #m104 #sombrero #sombrerogalaxy

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