Nightscapes & Deep Sky Colors

Astrophotography Brian A. Morganti

IC 342 Spiral Galaxy



Beautiful nearby spiral galaxy IC 342 could be more famous if it wasn't so hidden.  IC 342 would be a prominent galaxy in our night sky, but it is almost hidden from view behind the veil of stars, gas and dust clouds in the plane of our Milky Way galaxy. Similar in size to other large, bright spiral galaxies IC 342 is a mere 7 million light-years distant in the long-necked, northern constellation of the Giraffe (Camelopardalis). Even though IC 342's light is dimmed by intervening cosmic clouds, traces the galaxy's own obscuring dust, blue star clusters, and glowing pink star forming regions along spiral arms that wind far from the galaxy's core. IC 342 may have undergone a recent burst of star formation activity and is close enough to have gravitationally influenced the evolution of the local group of galaxies and the Milky Way.

This places it outside our own local group but it is one of the two brightest galaxies associated with the Maffei group of galaxies. The IC342/Maffei 1 group is the nearest galaxy group to our own.

The much more distant spiral galaxy UGC 2826 can be seen in the lower left image frame, shining at magnitude 14.89 it is a mere 1.4 arc minutes in size. 


  • Date & Location:  January 4th/5th, 2013 - Bernville, PA

  • Weather:  Gusty Winds, Temperature range 30F to 28F.  50% snow covered ground.

  • Sky Conditions:  Clear with  average transparency. 

  • SQM-L:  20.12 start - 20.09 finish.

  • Optics:  TeleVue NP101is Refractor @ 810mm f8.1 with 1.5x extender.

  • Filter:  Hutech IDAS-LPS (Light Pollution Suppression)

  • Mount:  AstroPhysics AP900GTO

  • Guiding:  Orion SSAG @5 seconds exposures.

  • Camera:  Canon T1i (500d) Hap Griffin modified - Baader UV/IR

  • Exposure:  25 - 10 minute subs  @ ISO800 -  (250 minutes) 4 hours 10 minutes total exposure time.

  • Calibration Frames:  No Darks or Bias Used - Sub Freezing Temperatures

  • Processing:  Images Plus 4.50b, PS CS6, GradientXTerminator, NIK filter tools 

  • Comments:  Second  image after collimation of NP101is optics.  Enhanced sky glow one hour prior to my last exposure was caused by a 48.7% illuminated moon rising and reflecting off a 50% snow cover.  A darker sky and larger optics would be needed to capture the finer details of this beautiful galaxy.    


Astrophotography  -  Nightscapes & Deep Sky Colors