Photo of the Week for August 19, 2016
Circling high overhead on summer evenings is the meandering star pattern of Draco the Dragon. In spite of the constellation’s considerable size, it doesn’t possess a single Messier object. But that’s not to say Draco is devoid of interesting deep-sky targets for observers and astrophotographers. For example, there’s the trio of galaxies pictured here (from left to right): NGC5985, 5982 and 5981. They’re found just north of the “blade” of the Draco “hockey stick,” which comprises Zeta (ζ), Eta (η), Theta (θ) and Iota (ι) Draconis (see chart #51 of Pocket Sky Atlas). All three galaxies are quite faint, with NGC5985 and 5982 being the brightest, each around magnitude 11. The slender edge-on NGC5981 is a challenging magnitude 13.6.
The Draco threesome were captured by Drew Patterson from Horseshoe Valley, Ontario. He used a SBIG STF8300C CCD camera attached to a Celestron C11 telescope to acquire the 15, 900-second frames used to create the final image.