M74 - Spiral Galaxy

M74 - Spiral Galaxy

M74 is a Grand Design Sc-type Spiral Galaxy in the constellation Pisces.  Its distance is estimated to be about 35 million light years.  More information about this galaxy can be found at The Messier Index - M74 and Wikipedia - M74.

This image is a 126-minute (63 x 2-min) composite captured on 31 October 2008 through a William Optics FLT-110 4.3" f/7 refractor with an SXV-H9 CCD camera.

Faintly visible in the image above and more pronounced in the version below are two streaks.   These are asteroids or minor planets that were slowly moving through the field during my imaging run.   The one to the left of the galaxy is designated 18300 1979 PA while the one to the lower right of the galaxy is 8000 Isaac Newton, which is a Main-belt asteroid discovered in 1986.   The total imaging run was just short of 3 hours from 0239-0534 UT on 1 November 2008.

M74 - Spiral Galaxy

Below is a video created from each of the individual subexposures used to create the above images. By noting where the asteriods are in the above image and enlarging the video by clicking on the lower right corner enlarge icon, you can see them slowly marching across in this video.

The video also contains two other intruders. At about 8 seconds into the video, a faint streak is seen moving from top right to top left in the image. Right after that, a jet leaves very bright streaks diagonally across the image. A geosynchronous satellite is a satellite that is "parked" in a very high orbit (22,236 miles above earth) so that it orbits at exactly the same rate that the earth rotates in one day. This permits the satellite to appear to stay fixed above a given location on earth and is used for communications, satellite tv, etc. If you have a Directv or Dish antenna, it is pointed at geosynchronous satellites. The reason the "fixed" satellite appears to move through this image is because my telescope is tracking the galaxy and stars in the background and so is moving counter to the earth's rotation...making it appear that the satellite is moving.

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