Archive for March, 2009

M51 (Whirlpool galaxy)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 29, 2009 by Andrew

I managed to get the scope out for some observing a couple weeks back and was treated to some fantastic skies…Yaaaaaay!!!!!!!.The temps were were seasonable and in the mid to upper 20s F with calm winds.I was going to use my DSLR again but,since the temps were half way decent I used the Meade DSI instead.My thought was that I was going to image the comet with the DSI but,realised that it was directly over head which is good for imaging.Problem is,my scope will give me a alert that the OTA will come into contact with the tripod so,that idea quickly vanished.
Knowing that their are lots of other faint fuzzies to be seen I decided on observing/imaging Messier object #51 a.k.a the Whirlpool galaxy.As many of you know,observing this object from light polluted skies is next to impossible?!.In recent posts I have mentioned how different the skies are from my new location compared to the street observing I was used to.Well,M51 was a object that I had never seen with my scope but,still managed to image anyway.This observing night was well worth the time consuming task of setup and alignment (hope to build…or buy a observatory in the near future! ;p ) and the hoots of a distant Owl seemed like a approval for my decision.Hahahahahaha,actually it was a unsettling sound which made me think of a scene from some horror flick.I had a fantastic view of M51 which,appeared as a faint fuzzy gray patch.That was until I got the DSI centered and focused on it.WOW!!!.This galaxy suddenly went from fuzzy to showing alot of detail including the bridge of gas that is being ripped from it’s companion NGC 5195.
Because of numerous reasons i.e foul weather,work and family health reasons, I haven’t had a lot of time to really get to know the workings of the DSI or find the proper settings that work for my style of imaging…heh,ok I don’t have a style! 🙂 .So,if you see a problem with any of my images and know the solution to fix them,feel quite free to give me a friendly heads up.
Located in the constellation Canes Venatici,M51 (Whirlpool galaxy) is  60,000 light-years across and about 31 million light-years distant.It can be seen not far from the handle of the Big dipper which puts it quite high in the sky in northern latitudes and has a visual mag of +8.4 .
According to the SEDS,M51 is easy and a showpiece if the sky is dark, but is quite sensitive for light pollution which easily makes it fade in the background. Under very good conditions, even suggestions of its spiral arms can be glanced with telescopes starting from 4-inch. Low magnification is best for viewing this pair.
RA 13 : 29.9 (h:m) DEC +47 : 12 (deg:m)
Image credit :Andrew
Imformation credit:


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