clear sky chart

Job 9:9

Job 9:9-10
9 He is the Maker of the Bear and Orion,
the Pleiades and the constellations of the south.
10 He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed,
miracles that cannot be counted.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Another M-51 from 4/16

Although it didn't look like it was going to clear up, it actually, did, and was able to get a halfway decent shot of M51, the Whirlpool Galaxy.

I chose the Whirlpool galaxy because it was bright, large and also pretty high in the sky.  It is a favorite of mine to photograph because it is so bright that thin clouds will not obscure it too much when trying to photograph deep sky.   Transparency was not great, but was good enough to capture the thin, dim spiral arm that connects the 2 galaxies.

M51 is located in the constellation Canes Venatici, and is just south of the 2 eastmost stars in the Big Dipper.  The galaxy is roughly 25 million light years distant.    It is estimated to contain about 160 billion times the mass of our sun and is about 85,000 light years in diameter.  It was discovered by Charles Messier in 1773, and he catalogued it Messier 51.

Charles Messier was a "comet hunter", and he created his catalog of  objects which could be mistaken for comets.  His objects which he cataloged  consists mainly of galaxies, compact star clusters and small nebulae.  His catalog consisted of 103 objects, but a few were added by colleagues later, and ended up being a list of 110 objects.  They are popular targets for amateur astronomers.

This is what I was able to see in a 6 inch newtonian, using a Canon Rebel T3 camera...

This is a cropped image, as the full frame had a fair amount of gradient noise due to flats that over-corrected the image.


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