M104 - THE SOMBRERO GALAXY

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!


GEAR USED:

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

ACQUISITION DETAILS:

Total Exposure Time: 3 hours and 9 minutes

Exposure Time per frame: 3 minutes

63 lights - 15 Darks - 15 Bias

ISO: 400


LOCATING THE SOMBRERO GALAXY

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.


COOL FACTS
  • 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


SINGLE SHOT & PROCESSING OF M104

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.



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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.

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