Stephan's Quintet (Interacting Galaxies in Pegasus )


Image Details:

Comments: Stephan's Quintet, a group of four interacting galaxies (NGC 7320 is probably just along our line of sight to the Quintet), has long been a holy grail for visual observers. In the opinion of some folks, seeing all five means you've reached "Advanced Amateur" status. A simple little CCD camera like the DSI makes quick work of the group, however, and even delivers them in color.

All these galaxies are in the 13th magnitude range, but what makes them really difficult is the small area subtended by the group, about 5'. This mean high power is necessary, which means the light of these galaxies gets spread out in a hurry. In medium size scopes, the group often appears as a slightly hazy patch rather than as distinct individual galaxies. Under less than perfect skies, a 20 inch range instrument is required for positive identification of all members.

I was pretty happy with this shot, as I didn't know whether the DSI would be up to the task. The very dark skies and cold (30sF) temperatures of the Deep South Regional Star Gaze in northern Louisiana no doubt helped the camera live up to its potential.

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