'Took me hours' - Electrician captures image of galaxy chain

Markarian's Chain captured by Shaun Reynolds in Carlton Colville

Markarian's Chain captured by Shaun Reynolds in Carlton Colville - Credit: Shaun Reynolds Astrophotography

An astrophotographer has shared an image he captured of a galaxy chain which is visible this time of year.

Shaun Reynolds has been an astroimager for 10 years and a passionate photographer for 30 years.

The electrician from Carlton Colville caught Markarian's Chain on camera last spring and has now shared his image ahead of it being at its most visible between March and April. 

He said: "It was about 20 hours of exposure all in to capture the image.

"It took me hours and hours, nights and nights.

"It's Markarian's Chain, a huge group of galaxies in our local galaxy cluster."

The local galaxy cluster includes the Milky Way and others such as the Andromeda Galaxy.

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The 64-year-old said almost half of what you can see in his image are galaxies located in the constellation of Virgo.

"Virgo can be seen late at night in the early spring sky covering an area of approximately two degrees across to the south," he said. "That's around four full moons in width.

"In the picture you can see a curve of galaxies, they're like our nearby neighbours.

Shaun Reynolds

Shaun Reynolds - Credit: Shaun Reynolds Astrophotography

"And in the background are hundreds of distant galaxies."

In the centre of the chain are two galaxies about 50 million light-years away, known as Markarian's Eyes.

Mr Reynolds added: "I captured the two-pane panorama using my imaging kit from my back garden observatory in Carlton Colville.

"We're really lucky in this region to have these skies where we can see this stuff.

"The picture is actually lots of exposures with different filters layered on top of each other.

"The camera is black and white and then filters are added to get everything from detail to colour.

"It takes a lot of patience and time. Even putting the photos together after the exposure takes hours.

"Everything in the photo is visible light, meaning the human eye could see them. It just has more detail because of the camera."

Mr Reynolds has been shortlisted for both the Astro Photographer of the Year at the Royal Observatory and the UK Astro Photographer of the year in 2016.

He displays his photos at exhibitions as well as doing talks on his photography.