Messier 87 & Photogenic Black Holes

Messier 87 Elliptical Galaxy
Messier 87 Elliptical Galaxy
M97’s supermassive black hole core.
Source: Wikipedia

M87 made the news last year when scientists from around the world collaborated to take the first photograph of a black hole. Don’t mix the object above up with the object to the right – the supermassive black hole at the centre of the galaxy is incredibly tiny when viewed from Earth. One scientist described it as if you were trying to take a photograph of a golf ball… on the moon.

Messier 87 is a giant elliptical galaxy, filled billions upon billions of very old redish stars. Even though it’s about as wide as the Milky Way at 240,000 light years, M87 is a sphere rather than a disc. That means a lot more stars and a lot more mass.

Capture details

An out of focus photo of M87, taken the night before

This photo was the 2nd attempt I had made at Messier 87.

I had originally planned to photography this galaxy with it’s neighbour M89 as well as M105, but unfortunately rushing through setup caused problems. My Celestron Focus Motor has not been friendly with Sequence Generator Pro, and after a frustrating attempt to manually focus I ended up with unusable data for both M87 and M88.

Lesson learned – take your time in setup if you don’t want to waste more time in the long run.

Technical details

Messier 87/NGC 4486 and its neighbouring galaxies in the Virgo Cluster
Messier 87/NGC 4486 and its neighbouring galaxies in the Virgo Cluster

Frames: 26×120″
Integration: 0.9 hours
Avg. Moon age: 24.50 days
Avg. Moon phase: 25.98%

Astrometry.net job: 3428420
RA center: 12h 30′ 49″
DEC center: +12° 23′ 20″
Pixel scale: 0.718 arcsec/pixel
Orientation: 307.284 degrees
Field radius: 0.489 degrees

Full capture details on Astrobin: https://www.astrobin.com/a01ouo/0/

Other Virgo Galaxies

Learn more about Messier 87

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