Best Deep Space Objects To Image – Spiral Galaxy IC 342

06/07/2017 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ Astrophotography Help Articles

Spiral Galaxy IC 342

Spiral Galaxy IC 342 closely resembles our own Milky Way Galaxy. At a distance of between 10 and 14 million light-years, a galaxy of this size would be expected to be one of the brightest in the sky. However, because it lies only 10° above the disk plane of the Milky Way, its light is dimmed tenfold by dust within our own galaxy, and therefore was not discovered until 1895. Several prominent hydrogen clouds, termed H2 regions, populate its spiral arms.

Designation IC 342
Other names Caldwell 5
Right ascension 03 h 46.8 min
Declination +68° 06¢
Magnitude 9.2
Size 18 × 17 arcmin
Constellation Camelopardalis


Frame this galaxy with a field of view of at least 25 arcmin to define the full extent of its spiral arms, although a field up to 40 arcmincan yield pleasing details.

Imaging IC 342 can be a challenge despite its large size and relatively bright magnitude of 9.2. Because it is large, this magnitude is spread out, yielding a low surface brightness. Choose a night of excellent transparency, without the distraction of the Moon. A dark sky is especially helpful. If you must image from suburban skies, consider a light pollution filter such as the IDAS.

Gather as much luminance data as possible, perhaps over more than one night. For this image, a high-resolution luminance was obtained with a large telescope and lower resolution color channels with a medium-sized telescope.

Single-shot colour cameras would require very long exposures to capture IC 342.
Processing. Begin processing your exposures of IC 342 with routine calibration, alignment, and combination of images.

After balancing colour, gently enhance your color intensity. Do not be surprised if the color remains bland or “muddy” within IC 342. You are imaging through galactic dust, which both scatters the blue light of young star clusters and dulls the red of emission nebulae. Sharpen the brighter regions of the galaxy but smooth its outer arms.


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