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Dates & Location

9th - 29th January 2011 using the SMAP site at Weed, New Mexico. Elevation 7269 ft. Lat 32.8°N Long 195.5W  

Catalogue identification

M95
NGC 3351


Equipment Used

Officina Stellare RC400 at 3304mm focal length.
Paramount ME German equatorial Mount.
Camera SBIG ST-11000M with FW-5L filter wheel.
TheSky V6 telescope control.
CCDSoft V 5.0 camera control.
Newly commissioned ScopeDome Dome.
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Where it is in space

In the constellation of Leo, at a magnitude of 9.7 M95 can be seen through 7x50 binoculars. It is located about 1.75 degrees north west of the star 53 Leonis. In this image North is to the top left.
Acquisition

Remote session using RADMIN PC control from Ravenshead, UK.
Exposures:- 9x15 plus 6x20 min Luminance:150:80:100 mins R:G:B, using 10 min sub-exposures
-25°C. All images binned 1x1. AllC

  What it is

M95 is categorised as a barred spiral galaxy. M95 is about one half the size of our Milky Way galaxy which makes it 50,000 light years across. There are some modern theories which attempt to describe how this central bar structure was created and whether it is a stable or transient structure in the evolution of the galaxy. One thing is clear and can be seen from this image is that at the intersection of the bar with the first ring arm of M95 there has been a surge of star formation. The blue areas of the arms depict the presence of very large, very massive and very hot blue stars which cause large swathes of gas and dust in the galaxy to reflect the blue light that they emit. As it happens, our Milky Way galaxy is also categorised as a Barred Spiral.

Processing Methods

Image acquisition and telescope control with CCDSoft V5/ TheSky6.  
  Data reduction with CCDStack. Lum and colour masters prepared and combined in CCDStack.  
 

Final LRGB image created using PhotoShop CS2.