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M51 Whirlpool Galaxy

May 1, 2017
This has become a favourite of mine since I got back into astrophotography again (2007) so it's always fun to revisit it with hopes of getting a better result each time. It's also a nice challenge under less than ideal skies and a relatively humble setup. The Whirlpool Galaxy is a grand design spiral galaxy NGC 5194 (top) with an interacting dwarf galaxy NGC 5195 (bottom). It's about 31 million light years away and located near the end of the handle of the Big Dipper in the constellation Canes Venatici. It was discovered by Charles Messier in October 13, 1773 and was designated as M51. Through a small telescope under dark skies it will look like two faint smudges but with the aid of a camera and long exposures you will see the beautiful colour and details that highlight this incredible slow motion dance in deep space.

Image Details: Astro-Tech 8in RC with 0.67 AP telecompressor (~1186 mm fl), SBIG8300 mono camera. 6hrs Luminance, 1-1.5 hrs each RGB (10min sub exposures). Preprocessing in Pixinsight, post processing in Photoshop CC, finalized in Lightroom CC.