M96

M96: M96 is one of the many beautiful galaxies in Leo. It is near M95, (another nice spiral), and M105, (an elliptical that has another pair of companions). This cluster of galaxies lie right below the "belly" of the lion, and can be seen through a small telescope.

Messier: 96
NGC: 3368
Right Ascension: 10h 46m 46s
Declination: 11° 49'
Apparent Magnitude: 10.1

Date: April 2010
Equipment:
Telescope: Meade 16" Schmidt Cassegrain with f6.3 reducer
Camera: SBIG ST-10XE
Guiding: Meade 5" refractor/DSI Pro/PHD

Exposure: RGB: 7x5minutes each
L: 30x3minutes on 2 nights
Processing Notes: The camera was at -35°C. Data acquisition with CCDSoft. Reduced and aligned in CCDStack. Subs combined in Sigma Beta. RGB combined in AstroArt at 1:1:1.5 ratio. Linear stretch import of L into Photoshop. Adjusted curves and levels. Slight blur on the dim areas and sharpening on non-star bright areas. L was combined with RGB using three layers: Luminance on the bottom; RGB as a multiply(30%); and RGB as a color layer on top. Final stretch and tweak in Photoshop.
Scale: ~1.0"/pixel

Links to images of this object on other sites:
http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap070615.html

Additional Comments: This is the first image I processed using Photoshop layer masks to tweak portions of the image for contrast, sharpening, and smoothing. Also the first galaxy imaged in 2010 after the road was cleared of snow.

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