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Astrophotography by Bob Franke

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M64 - The Black Eye Galaxy

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Click here to view the image without Zoomify (3000 x 2000 - 468 KB)




12.5" RCOS @  ~f/9 (2897 mm fl) 0.64 arcsec / pixel.  The Zoomify image scale is 0.64 to 2.56 arcsec / pixel.


Paramount ME


SBIG STL-11000 w/ internal filter wheel, AstroDon Gen II Filters

Acquisition Data

5/7/2011 to 5/30/2011 Chino Valley, AZ... with CCDAutoPilot3 & CCDSoft.  AOL guided


Lum 420 min (28 x 15 min, bin 1x1...  best 28 of 39)

RGB 841 min (18 x 15 min each, bin 2x2)


CCDSoft, CCDStack, Photoshop CS3, Noel Carboni's actions and Russell Croman's GradientXTerminator.

eXcalibrator 2.0-Beta for (u-g), (g-r) color calibration, using 5 stars from the SDSS-DR7 database.

PixFix32 (pre-beta) to repair column defects.

CCDStack to calibrate, register, normalize, data reject,  combine the sub exposures, selective deconvolution and LRGB combine.

PhotoShop for non-linear stretching and LLRGB combine.

Noiseware Pro, a PhotoShop plug-in.


North is at about 2:00 o'clock, the image is rotated 45 clockwise.

M64 (NGC 4826) was discovered by Edward Pigott in March 1779. The galaxy is located in the constellation Coma Berenices, at a distance of about 17 million light-years. A dark band of dust partially obscures the galaxy's bright core, giving the appearance of a black eye, when viewed with a telescope. However, like many objects, with descriptive names, long CCD exposures reveal a different picture.

Recent observations show that the outer regions of M64 rotate in the opposite direction from the inner. The galaxy appears to be made of two concentric, counter-rotating systems. The inner system is about 3,000 light-years in diameter and the outer extends out to about 40,000 light-years. The shear area, between these two regions, seems to be triggering the formation of new stars.

M64's black eye and counter-rotating regions are attributed to a collision with a satellite galaxy, maybe one billion years ago.