|Messier 51 The Whirlpool Galaxy in Canes Venatici|
The Whirlpool Galaxy (also known as Messier 51a, M51a, or NGC 5194) is an interacting grand-design spiral galaxy that is estimated to be 23 ± 4 million light-years from the Milky Way Galaxy in the constellation Canes Venatici. It is one of the most famous galaxies in the sky. The galaxy and its companion (NGC 5195) are easily observed by amateur astronomers, and the two galaxies may even be seen with binoculars. The Whirlpool Galaxy is also a popular target for professional astronomers, who study it to further understand galaxy structure (particularly structure associated with the spiral arms) and galaxy interactions. WikipediaThis image was created using data from last year combined with data I captured in April 2012. It consists of 142 individual sub-frames, each of 60 seconds duration (the most I can get out of my EQ5 mount without star trails becoming a problem). The sub-frames - or subs - were stacked in Deep Sky Stacker (DSS), and the resultant tif file was processed in Photoshop CS5. For those of you already familiar with DSS, there's a vid on stacking multiple sessions on my Youtube channel here. For those of you not familiar with DSS, there's a (rather lengthy) vid on how to use it here :)
This is a relatively bright and easy target and is a good one to aim for once you've got the hang of using a scope and camera. Once this blog gets off the ground properly, I'll post a JargonBuster page, to give you an idea of what all the technical stuff means. I also hope to post a blog for each of the more popular targets that us amateurs like to aim at, giving you an idea of where it is and the best way to approach imaging the thing.
Promised blog on DSLR/Tripod imaging will be with you shortly.
May your skies be forever cloudless :)