This underappreciated edge-on galaxy, beautifully framed by two smaller and fainter look-alikes, is much more photogenic than I expected. NGC 4216 is only slightly fainter than much more popular NGC 891, but because it is 50% smaller, it actually appears brighter. And though almost a full magnitude fainter, it is about the same size as the uber-popular M65 (which, to my eyes, does not have the pleasing symmetry of NGC 4216).
May has an abundance of beautiful galaxies; M51, M104, and NGC 4565 are some of the most awe-inspiring galaxies of any month. While NGC 4216 is not quite up to those standards, it has a unique beauty of its own. A visit to it will not be unrewarded.
NGC 4216 is not as hard to capture as its magnitude would suggest; even its two fainter companions are easily in reach of modest equipment. Nevertheless, more exposure time is always better, especially to minimize noise in the faint halo that surrounds the galaxy.
The central dust lane and the area near the core are bright enough to take some aggressive sharpening.
Remember that galaxies are not solid objects. Keep the edges diffuse so they appear to almost glow. In post-processing I often layer a heavily blurred, white silhouette the same shape as the galaxy and set its opacity at 10% or less. This brightens the entire galaxy and gives it a softer look.
D. Chris Cole
Celestron C9.25 f/6.3 — CanonXT — RGB 173.3 minutes (200 second subs)
ED 80 Pro Skywatcher — Atik 16HR — L 135 (5-minute subs)
Celestron C8 f/4.8 — Artemis285 — LRGB 50:18:18:18 (5- and 2.5-minute subs)
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