Three Spirals

George Moromisato
27 February 2006

IC 342

Between the perpetually overcast skies and the light-polution of downtown Seattle, I have not had any chances to look at the sky—nevermind take pictures. Fortunately, a quick trip back to Cambridge satiated my astrophotographical itch. The crisp, clear New England winter skies are no match for Arizona's dry desert skies, but they've got Seattle's beat. In four long nights in Cambridge, I was able to capture three spiral galaxies.

I first read about IC 342 in Stephen O'Meara's book, The Caldwell Objects. He describes it as an overlooked gem that is as easy to see as M101. It is true that it is a large galaxy and that it is relatively easy to capture at this time of the year since it is high overhead, but I found that the surface brightness was so low that I had problems getting any detail in the image. Maybe next time I'll expose for longer.


M88 is another lesser known galaxy. In size and brightness it is very similar to M63 (also in the same region of the sky) but the arms of M88 are longer and more distinct. This image consists of over three hours of luminance exposure combined with an hour and a half of color exposure.


M51 is the canonical spiral galaxy and the easiest to take a picture of (at least in the Northern Hemisphere). This shot is much better than my previous effort and easily one of the most beautiful galaxy images that I've taken (which is not necessarily saying much). Of course, it's nothing compared to this Hubble Space Telescope image.