A Spiral, an Elliptical, and an Edge-On walk into a Barred......
A Spiral, an Elliptical, and an Edge-On walk into a Barred......
A Spiral, an Elliptical, and an Edge-On walk into a Barred......
Sorry, my feeble brain can't come up with a good punch line. In any event, the Draco Trio of Galaxies form a striking group of galaxies. The leftmost of the prominent galaxies, NGC 5985, is a beautiful barred spiral galaxy that we see face-on. Because it has a very active galactic nucleus (AGN), it is classified as a Seyfert galaxy. The elliptical galaxy in the middle is NGC 5982. While it seems rather bland (as is the case with most elliptical galaxies), it has a faint outer shell and this suggests that it has recently completed merging with some other galaxy. Finally, the galaxy on the right is NGC 5981, an edge on barred spiral galaxy similar to NGC 5985 except we don't see it obliquely - we see it edge on.

This image contains a plethora of faint background galaxies. Within the photo's field of view (just under 3/4 of a degree by 1/2 degree), I counted 30 background galaxies in addition to the 3 main galaxies!

In this image, North is Up, This image is cropped to 63% of the original full frame.

Exposure Details
Lens Celestron C-8 SCT with Celestron focal reducer
Focal Length 1160mm (measured from the image)
Focal Ratio f/5.8
Mount Schaefer GEM - 7 1/2 Byers gear
Guiding ONAG On-Axis Guider with PHD Guiding
Camera Canon 450D - Gary Honis modified
Exposure 159 subexposures of 180 seconds each at ISO 1600 - just under 8 hours total
Calibration 30 darks, 30 flats, 30 bias
Date April 19, 2012 and April 22, 2012
Temperature 53F on 4/18, 60F on 4/22
SQM Reading 21.2 (Bortle 4) on 4/19, 21.4 (Bortle 4) on 4/22
Seeing 4 of 5 on both nights
Location Pine Mountain Club, California
Software Used Images Plus 4.5 for camera control, calibration, stacking, digital development, multiresolution sharpening, smoothing and noise reduction. Photoshop CS5 used for levels and curves, color balance, high pass filter, star shrinking, saturation adjustments, screen mask invert, and noise reduction. Gradient Xterminator for gradient removal. Carboni Tools for additional saturation adjustments, noise reduction, and smoothing. HLVG for additional color correction.
Notes This is a fascinating field, and I was lucky enough to image it on two very good nights. As a result, I was able to capture some nice details, particularly in NGC 5985. I'm also very happy with the number of background galaxies that are visible in the image.

This image was published by Astronomy Magazine as its Picture of the Day for November 18, 2015!