Nightscapes & Deep Sky Colors

Astrophotography Brian A. Morganti

Markarian's Chain of Galaxies


Mouse over the above image for galaxy catalog identification

Markarian's chain was named after an Armenian astronomer in the 1970s and represents a beautiful chain of galaxies that forms part of the Virgo Cluster.  Our own Local Group of galaxies (Milky Way, large and small Magellenic Clouds, M31, M32, M100, M33) is currently receding from the Virgo Cluster at a rate of about 1000 km/second.  However, it is anticipated that our Local Group will eventually stop receding from the Virgo Cluster and will ultimately accelerate towards this region (gravity from the Virgo Cluster influences us even at distances of 70 million light years).  M84 and M86 are the 2 large elliptical galaxies on the right and M87 is the dominant galaxy in the lower left of the above image.  The catalog numbers for most of the galaxies are shown by running your mouse over the above image.  However, if you look closely you should be able to find at least another half-dozen faint fuzzy galaxies that are not labeled. 

North is up in the above image. 


  • Date & Location:  April 3rd, 2013 - StarEffects Observatory - Bernville, PA

  • Weather:  Light winds, steady temperature near 31F. No snow cover.

  • Sky Conditions:  Clear with above average transparency.

  • SQM-L: 20:40 start  - 20:55 finish which is excellent for this time of year.

  • Optics:  TeleVue NP101is @ 540mm f5.4 with TeleVue field flattener.

  • Filter:  Hutech IDAS-LPS (Light Pollution Suppression) in image train.

  • Mount:  AP900GTO

  • Guiding:  Orion SSAG @ 5 second exposures

  • Camera:  Canon 5D MII  unmodified

  • Exposure:  12 x 8 min (1 hours 36 min total) all at ISO 800

  • Calibration Frames:  None - near freezing

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

  • Comments:  An unmodified DSLR was used since there were no red emission nebula to be found in the above image frame. Image above was cropped to about 2.5 degrees in width. 


Astrophotography  -  Nightscapes & Deep Sky Colors