NGC 5866 (M 102?) – the Spindle Galaxy

11 June 2012   This image was kind of a grab-bag object taken after a night of astrometry while I was in the house transmitting the night's data to the Minor Planet Center.   It's been a pleasant night with temperatures in the low 60s and a very clear sky after 3 weeks of guck.

The question mark in the heading is there because it's uncertain whether Charles Messier or his successor Pierre Méchain actually tagged this 9.9 magnitude "non comet".  Regardless, it's a beautiful lenticular galaxy in Northern constellation Draco, which is seen almost exactly edge-on.

There were 40 ten-second exposures taken from 00:28 – 00:38 hrs with -15C cooling, 2X2 binning and 1 Hz guiding.  That’s a total exposure of 6 minutes and 40 seconds – pretty short.  No filters were used. 

NGC 5866 is shown in a full (21’ X 14’) frame.  It’s a relatively small 5.2 X 2.3 arc minutes in size, but one may still see the prominent dust lane along the equatorial plane.  Estimated distance is 45-million LY.   

NGC 5866 (M 102)  00:28 – 00:38 hrs  11 June 2012  North is up, east is left.

Meade 14" LX200GPS @ f/5.87, SBIG ST-8XME wtih AO-8
10 seconds X 40, 2X2 pixel binning, -15°C cooling, 1 Hz guiding
Wishing Star Observatory  I15  hgp