wide field astrophotography
This image of the Virgo Galaxy Cluster (in the constellation Virgo) pushes both my equipment and my current processing abilities to their limits. A target better suited for a larger telescopes, I photographed it here using a fairly small diameter wide-field scope and standard DSLR camera. The image quality is further hampered by the less than ideal weather conditions (high moisture levels in the atmosphere) during the period that the image was captured, but nevertheless does reveal a large number of galaxies in this region.
Located almost 54 million light years away, M87 (aka Messier 87, NGC 4486, Virgo A) is located near the centre of the cluster (and centre of this image). Also seen prominently in the image to the left of M87 are the spiral galaxies M88 (in the constellation Coma Berenices) and M90 (also in the constellation Virgo). Also visible near the top centre of the frame is the Markarian's Chain stretch of galaxies. Still part of the Virgo Cluster, Markarian's includes among other deep sky features, the elliptical galaxies M84 and M86. It is estimated that in its entirety, the Virgo Cluster contains somewhere between 1,300 and 2,000 individual galaxies.