Galaxy Quest part 1


With the winter observing season behind us,it is time to set our sights on spring and all of it’s glorious wonders. As a few of my fellow enthusiast will agree,last winter saw some terrible observing conditions and the start of the spring season was no exception. However,it appears that spring has finally arrived and with it’s late arrival,clearer skies and warmer temps.I have had the scope out a few times in the past month and Friday night saw some of the best seeing conditions that I have seen in a very long time.I set the scope up at around 7:30pm to let it cool down and by 9pm had it aligned and ready to go.One of the first objects I visited to was M81 and M82.Both were easily visible even though they were located directly above a abnoxious street light.I spent a long time observing both galaxies noting how obvious the dust lane was in M82.M81 was also quite bright but,due to light pollution swamping the eye piece,very little detail could be seen.My next object was M13.Slowly rising above the roof top of my house,it appeared as a bright but fuzzy ball and I didn’t spend very much time observing it.The reason for this was due to the fact that the skies transparency kept waxing and waning like waves on a body of water.My next venture was a galaxy group located in the constellation Virgo.This was a very exciting time because for one reason or another,I have never seen or even detected this group and believe me,I have tried.The first visit I made to this group was M84 and was completely taken be surprise.Not only did I find it but,was amazed as to how easily visible they were.Two of the galaxies in the group really stood out and with averted vision I could detect 2 others.Onward to M85 I went where I found one galaxy quite easily,with another found after imaging.I then slewed the scope towards M86 but wasn’t able to see anything visually.I have a couple images that I took and have found a dim galaxy in them.However,light pollution has made it almost impossible to tweak any form of detail out of the shot…I will keep trying!.After more than a hour,I decided to continue the adventure and set my sights on the globular cluster M5.Once again,I found a small, bright but, fuzzy object of which like M13,had very little detail aside from a couple strings of stars radiating from the main bundle.By this time,I noticed that my power supply was running low,from a little yellow light on the side of the pack.Before calling it a night,I decided to slew the scope to one final object,M57 or more commonly known as “The Ring Nebula”.Oh boy,summer is almost here!.

It was a warm and quiet night which I found extremely relaxing but,wasn’t without excitment.While visiting M81 and M82 taking note of their brightness a small red Nissan pickup truck came screeching around the corner,narrowly missing me and my scope by less than 10 feet.Needless to say,my temper became instantly short!!.

The images of M81 and M82 below are just some of the shots that I took on Friday night.I even got brave and used a 25mm eye piece on the close up shot of M81.It came out much better than I expected even though I had to mess with it ( a lot)to bring out more detail.It was cropped, resized and light pollution removed.I also removed some noise and other artifacts that resulted from a longer exposure and processing issues.Because of the light pollution tool in Photoshop Elements, I had to boost contast a bit, which is why the core of the galaxies core is so bright.

Image credit:Andrew

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