Object data: M63 (NGC 5055) is a large magnitude 8.6 galaxy in the constellation of Canes Venatici. It has a remarkable amount of structure in the arms, giving rise to its common name of the Sunflower Galaxy. It is estimated to be approximately 37 million light years distant and is thought to form part of the M51 physical group. The pinkish regions in the spiral arms are due to ionized Hydrogen gas in star forming regions which are similar to regions such as the Orion Nebula in our own galaxy. Millions of young stars cause the blue colouration of the middle and outer spiral arms, whereas the core region is populated by older stars, giving rise to the brownish colouration. M63 was discovered by Pierre Méchain (Messier's colleague) on June 14, 1779.
Location: Wiltshire England
Conditions: slight gusts of up to 10mph, transparency=7, seeing=7
Optics: RCOS Ritchey-Chretien 12.5" working at f/9
Mount: AP 900 GTO on Portable Pier
Camera: SBIG ST-8E / CFW-8
Guiding: ST-8E integral guiding chip controlled by MaximCCD
Exposure: LRGB: Luminance: 8x15 minutes; RGB: 15:15:30 minutes binned 2x2
Processing: Image acquisition and initial processing was done using Maxim DL, subsequent processing was done using Registar and Photoshop.
Notes: FWHM measured 2.1 arc seconds on the best frames. The yellowish star at 8 o'clock on the outer extremity of the galaxy looks as though it may be trailed, but in fact it is a close double.