I finally had a run of clear skies on a new Moon! I took advantage by imaging NGC 5566 at the beginning of each of the six mostly clear nights. This galaxy is the prominent one in the middle of the image, and it lies about 65 million light years away. It’s around magnitude 10.6. Visually nearby to it are NGC 5560, the long bar galaxy above, and NGC 5569, the barred spiral just to the left. These two galaxies are far behind the first at around 82 million light years away, making them actual neighbors, and likely interacting. These are both around the 13th magnitude in brightness. This group lies near the equator in Virgo.
I collected around 18 hours of data for this image. I have been consistently struggling with flexure in my telescope, and it makes it very difficult to flat field correct the sub-images, leading to nasty background gradients that can be very tricky to reduce. This time, I decided to give up on my LED flat panel and instead take evening sky flats with the scope pointing to the middle of where the target would be on both sides of the meridian. This ended up working extremely well, and I don’t know why I’ve been so hesitant to try it! The final integration had just a hint of gradient due to neighbors’ porch lights, and I was able to easily kill it with DynamicBackgroundExtraction. The NoiseXterminator tool is an absolute blessing, and I can spend more time on making the image pleasing and less on fidgeting with denoise tool sliders.
Here is the full field,
And the full annotation,