Canon XSi, modded, 30 x 3 min., ISO 1600
LXD75-SN10 OTA, Baader MPCC, EQ6 mount, guided w/PHD and EQMOD
The Whale: NGC 4631 (right), Magnitude: 9.2, Surface brightness: 12.6 mag/sq arcmin and 22.3 mag/arc-sec2, Size: 15.2'x2.8' Position angle: 86°
The Hockey Stick: NGC 4656 (left). Magnitude: 10.5, Surface brightness: 13.1 mag/sq arcmin, Size: 15.3'x2.4' Position angle: 33°
The pair of large galaxies in this image are NGC 4631, named "The Whale Galaxy", on on the right of this image, and the smaller NGC 4656, named "The Hockey Stick Galaxy" for its very distincy shape.
The Whale is a large spiral galaxy Sc type spiral galaxy seen edge-on, about the size of The Milky Way Galaxy. This image, taken near the Zenith from the Eastern Israeli Negev Desert, on a particularly clear night, shows the numerous dust lanes within the galaxy along with brighter regions of new star formation. Further detail can be seen in the close up image I have included in this site http://www.pbase.com/boren/image/111891423).
Just to The Whale's right in this image, the smaller elliptical galaxy, NGC 4627, is tidally interactng with The Whale - this gravitational interaction distorting them both. The pair are named as ARP 281, in he Arp Catalog of Peculiar galaxies, and lies between 25-30 million light years from Earth.
At the left, The Hockey Stick shows substantial gravitational distortion from its large neighbor, The Whale. Recent surveys have shown that a bridge of hydrogen gas connects the two, indicating this past history of interaction. I have made a close up image of this galaxy and included it on this site http://www.pbase.com/boren/image/111891425) - where some of the small knotted star forming regions can be resolved. There are also several dimmer background galaxies in the picture.