Whirlpool Galaxy (M51)

JonaBeth RussellJonaBeth Russell Major grinsMauiRegistered Users Posts: 983 Major grins

As my galaxy hunting continues, I'm definitely enjoying the journey, from learning about the targets to learning more about post processing the integrations. So, if you wanna know all the blah blah science stuff, read on. Otherwise, feel free to skip ahead for the eye goodies. 😁

M51a, the Whirlpool galaxy:

This galaxy was first observed in 1773, by Charles Messier. At that time, it was thought to be a nebula. It's companion galaxy was later discovered by Pierre Méchain, although whether the two galaxies were interacting, or merely passing from a distance, was still unknown.

Fast forward to 1845, and William Parsons, 3rd Earl of Rosse was able to view the spiral structure of M51, the first spiral 'nebula' to be observed.

In the mid 1900's, Edwin Hubble (think Hubble space telescope), observed properties within these two distant objects, confirming that they were indeed galaxies, rather than nebulae.

Later, with the advent of radio astronomy, it was confirmed that the two galaxies do interact, and it's believed their close proximity is what is causing the arms of the spiral to skew toward the other galaxy.

To create this image, I used a Sony a7riii + 100-400mm GM w/ 1.4x teleconverter. This was mounted to a Sky Watcher Star Adventurer tracking mount atop an old Bogen 3046 tripod.

Total exposure time is just over an hour, spread across 30 light frames. I initially shot 60, but rejected half for misshapen stars.

By the time I shot dark, flat, and bias frames, the total count was 280. Stacking, integration, and most of the post process was done in Pixinsight, with a couple subtle refinements in LR.

Ultimately, I need to invest in a dedicated deep sky scope for this type of imagery, in order to reel in the target more. But for now, I'm thankful for 42mp and a heavy crop hand.

Enjoy the images, and Mahalo for viewing!

Comments

  • StumblebumStumblebum I shoot, therefore I am San Jose, CARegistered Users Posts: 7,853 Major grins

    Sweet! How amazing!

  • ziggy53ziggy53 Still learnin'still lovin Super Moderators Posts: 21,695 moderator

    Wonderful work on this! Yes, we need to get you a proper APO or better, a 10" - 12.5" reflector.

    In the late 1960s our local Science Club decided to build a 12.5" combination Cassegrain/Newtonian reflector, and I still have the original grind log for that project. (A friend later acquired the telescope from the High School after years of neglect. He refinished the mirror and it's back in use again.) M51 was a popular target.

    Good luck in your further Astrophotography pursuits.

    ziggy53
    Moderator of the Cameras and Accessories forums
  • JonaBeth RussellJonaBeth Russell Major grins MauiRegistered Users Posts: 983 Major grins

    @Stumblebum said:
    Sweet! How amazing!

    @ziggy53 said:
    Wonderful work on this! Yes, we need to get you a proper APO or better, a 10" - 12.5" reflector.

    In the late 1960s our local Science Club decided to build a 12.5" combination Cassegrain/Newtonian reflector, and I still have the original grind log for that project. (A friend later acquired the telescope from the High School after years of neglect. He refinished the mirror and it's back in use again.) M51 was a popular target.

    Good luck in your further Astrophotography pursuits.

    Mahalo fellas!

    Ziggy, yes, I really do need to get into some reflectors. I've been eyeing a Mak-Newt by Orion that seems to have some pretty fabulous reviews. I realize this is not a 'whip it out and start using' setup, and will require periodic collimation, along with acclamation time before use. Any suggestions to compare, or possibly something a bit more compact? I'm still VERY new to telescope world, and like astrophotography, it's blowing my mind with what options and techniques are available.

  • ziggy53ziggy53 Still learnin'still lovin Super Moderators Posts: 21,695 moderator

    I didn't follow through with astro-photography after high-school.

    When my son and I were in Boy Scouts I got a cheap 4 1/2" and then some fairly nice oculars. The troop then got a very nice donated Meade 4 1/2" and rather excellent Meade ocular set which let twice as many scouts observe, and then I got a CCD camera and portable display so even more could see.

    When my son got out of Scouts I stayed for a couple of years but ultimately got out myself and gave everything to the Assistant Scout Leader to manage.

    My only current telescope is a Meade ETX70AT kit plus 10mm Plossl plus moon filter plus Rigel Quick Finder. It's quick to setup and pretty lightweight, but not great for photography.

    I do dream of getting a large Dobsonian someday but it probably won't happen. I appreciate how amateur projects make modern astrophotography more affordable, like this:

    Guided Telescope Mount & Accessories (Tracker V3) #DIY

    https://td0g.ca/2019/01/05/telescope-mount-diy-tracker-v3/

    ziggy53
    Moderator of the Cameras and Accessories forums
  • wtlwdwgnwtlwdwgn Major grins Registered Users Posts: 350 Major grins

    Beautiful images. B)

    Steve
  • kdogkdog artistically challenged San Jose, CAAdministrators Posts: 11,583 moderator

    Terrific work, JR. It's mind boggling how much effort goes into an image like this. Tracking and stacking of 280 frames of four different types, And stunning results. Very impressive.

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