Markarian Chain - The Virgo Cluster of Galaxies

The Virgo Cluster of galaxies is the largest (containing between 1500-2000 galaxies) and most central group in the Local Supercluster. Although it is approximately 60 million light years away, it exerts a gravitaional effect on our Local Group of galaxies.

This image contains what is known as the Markarian Chain, named after the Russian astronomer who published a paper on it in 1961. He proposed that these galaxies formed a physical system. The large elliptical galaxy at center right is M86. M84 is just to its right. Also visible are several other galaxies. NGC 4402 is just above M86; NGC 4388 is at the bottom right. NGC4438 and NGC4435 (the Eyes) are the two spiral galaxies to the left of M86.

Telescope: Orion 10 in. Newtonian with Baader coma corrector
Camera: Modified Canon 550D
Settings: ISO: 1600; Raw capture
Exposures: 33 @ 3min. for each of 2 frames

The images were focused, aligned, and combined in ImagesPlus. The two frames were aligned using RegiStar. The mosaic was combined and adjusted (Levels, Curves, Color Balance, Cropping) in Photoshop.
Shot from my backyard observatory in southeastern Minnesota on 5/11/12 and 5/13/12. Temp: 40 F; Humidity: 60%

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