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Sunflower Galaxy M63
click on image for full size
A welcome beacon of impending summer, the arrival of the Sunflower Galaxy in the skies of late spring herald the arrival of a warmer season.  This galaxy has an unusually high number of spiral arms, tightly coiled around a bright core, giving rise to the "sunflower" name.  Blue regions are illuminated by bright young stars, compared to emission nebulae glowing red from hot ionized hydrogen gas. Dense lanes of interstellar dust help to define the individual spiral arms. 

With a mass of 10 billion suns and a diameter of about 60,000 light-years, the Sunflower Galaxy is only a fraction of the size of our Milky Way. The Sunflower Galaxy is closer to the size of the
Pinwheel Galaxy, M33, but lies over 10 times farther away.  Number 63 in Messier's catalog, the Sunflower Galaxy lies at a distance of 35 million light-years in the direction of the constellation Canes Venaciti.

This image of the Sunflower Galaxy above was taken at my dark sky observatory with five hours of  luminance  exposures with an ST10XME camera and AP reducer through a Meade 12"LX200R, combined with 140 minutes red, 90 minutes green, and 100 minutes blue exposures with an ST2000XM camera through a TEC140 refractor. Total imaging time of over 10 hours in one night was achived by using two cameras simultaneously.   The image below was acquired in a light-polluted suburb on a clear night, with 180 minutes of luminence exposures (IDAS filter) combined with 35 minutes of red and green exposures and 60 minutes of blue exposures.  Total imaging time was over 5 hours.  An ST10XME camera was used through a Celestron C8 Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope.
Music - I Can See for Miles and Miles, by The Who