1/21/04 NGC 2207 / IC 2163
Interacting galaxies in Canis Major. They make an interesting subject - a galactic train wreck of 2 spiral galaxies. Imagine what the night sky looks like in the center of that! This was one of the hardest shots I've taken. It's very low in the sky due to my Northern latitude, so there's a lot of atmosphere to look through while imaging this pair. This also means that they just aren't visible for very long each night either. In addition, these galaxies have a very small apparent size, so I had to image at higher magnification, F10 versus F6.3. Using the higher F ratio increases the need for longer exposure times and exaggerates tracking and guiding errors. And if all that wasn't enough, it was windy! We had experienced several consecutive clear moonless nights, but each was very cold (single digits Fahrenheit) and windy. Wind may as well be clouds, it makes it nearly impossible to get good images (if I were using a dome it wouldn't be quite as bad). Anyway, I cracked, I just couldn't see that beautiful starry moonless sky without imaging. I kept exposure times low and still had to throw away more than 50% of my data due to wind smearing the images. Needless to say, I could use 2-3 times more data to get a decent image out of this pair. The boys at NASA got a little more detail in their image, I was poking around the Hubble site when I found this image which inspired me to try it myself.