M51 NGC 5194 Galaxy ” Whirlpool Galaxy “

M51 NGC 5194 Galaxy
Whirlpool Galaxy M51 NGC 5194

Whirlpool Galaxy M51 NGC 5194

Telescope / Lens TEC 140mm f/7
Mount Type Astrophysics 1200
 Filters Astrodon LRGB
 Film  CCD
 Exposure 185 minutes (3 hours 5 min); LRGB (L=125,RGB=60) 5 min. exposures
 Processing CCDSoft, CCDStack, AIP, Photoshop CS2
 Date  04/20/2009
 Location North Eugene, Oregon (backyard)

Galaxy M51 NGC 5195 “Whirlpool Galaxy”
The Whirlpool Galaxy M51, is located within the constellation Canes Venatici (Hunting Dogs), just down 3.5° from the last star of the handle of the Big Dipper (URSA Major).

M51 lies 23 million light years from earth and is viewed by amateurs and professionals alike. Several background galaxies are also visible in the image. The Whirlpool Galaxy M51 (14.2 x 9.5 arc minutes) is interacting with it’s companion Galaxy NGC5195 (8.9 x 7.4 arc minutes). Both galaxies have a magnitude of 8.35 & 9.49 respectfully and are not visible to the unaided eye. The Whirlpool Galaxy is approximately 60,000 light year across. They do show up in good quality binoculars.

Charles Messier discovered M51 on October 13,1773. William Parsons, in 1845, using a 72″ reflecting telescope in Ireland, discovered the Whirlpool Galaxy had a spiral structure.  It was considered a nebula until Edwin Hubble established that these so called nebula were really separate and distinct galaxies by observing Cepheid variables in the early to mid-twentieth century.

Today a good 150mm (6″) telescope can reveal the spiral structure of M51 the Whirlpool Galaxy. Good quality binoculars will show the Whirlpool Galaxy M51a a fussy spot.


The edge-on galaxy lower right is IC 4263 (UGC8470), magnitude 15.7 and 1.8 x 0.4 arcminutes in size, it lies 18 arc minutes South of M51.



M101 NGC 5457 Galaxy

Galaxy M101 NGC 5457
Galaxy M101 (NGC 5457) Pinwheel Galaxy 21 million light years 4 hours 20 min. exposure CCD

M101 Galaxy NGC 5457 Pinwheel Galaxy in Ursa Major

Telescope / Lens TEC 140mm f/7
Mount Type Astro-Physics 1200
Camera ST10XME
 Filters Astro-Don LRGB
 Film  CCD
 Exposure LRGB of 4 hours 20 minutes (L=10x20min.; color 5min. sub-frames) -20° C
 Processing CCDSoft, AIP4Win, CCDStack & Photoshop CS2
 Date 7-25-2009
 Location  Snow Peak, 30 miles SE of Cottage Grove, Oregon
122° 52′ 35″ W 43° 31′ 21″ N
 Conditions 4670′ magnitude 6.0 Skies; Clear & Steady

Galaxy M101 (NGC 5457) is located in the constellation Ursa Major (The Great Bear). This spiral galaxy, also called “The Pinwheel Galaxy”, is magnitude 7.86 and is 28.6′ x 26.5′ in size. This shows up well in medium sized scopes at a dark sky site. Galaxy M101 is 21 million lights years distant & 170,000 light years across with 1 Trillion stars.  Discovered by Charles Messier March 27, 1781.

The longer you image this galaxy, more details continue to surface while arms continue to grow in size.  The hundreds of background galaxies that are visible is astounding.  This is because we are looking out and up from the central region of our own Milky Way Galaxy which obscures our view of space.  I have estimated that some of these background galaxies are 20-50 times more distant.

M 101 is one of the best face-on spirals visible through amateur telescopes.  This galaxy is comparable to the size of our own Milky Way Galaxy.  M101 has 5 prominent companion galaxies: NGC 5204, NGC 5474, NGC 5477, NGC 5585 & Holmberg IV.  The gravitational interaction of these have shaped M101


M31 NGC224 Andromeda Galaxy


M31       NGC224        Andromeda Galaxy     ST10XME (SBIG) LRGB     3.5 Hour Exposure



M 31 (NGC224) Andromeda Galaxy
The Andromeda Galaxy is readily visible from a dark sky location as a fuzzy patch of light covering approximately 3+ degrees or 6 times the width of our moon. Andromeda is approximately 2.5 million light years from Earth and 220,000 light years across. Making it much larger than our own Milky Way galaxy at only 100,000 lights years across. In about 5 billion years both our Milky Way galaxy and Andromeda will collide and begin to coalesce, perhaps evolving into an even larger elliptical type galaxy. This image reveals much detail and numerous globular star clusters and nebulae are visible. Amazing for just a 3.2 diameter refractor, but Thomas Back (TMB) was a primer Telescope Maker and his designs live on.

Telescope / Lens TMB 80 mm f/6 with Tele-Vue .8 reducer f/4.8 384 mm
Mount Type Astrophysics 1200
 Filters Astrodon LRGB e-series  filters (generation 1)
 Film  CCD
 Exposure 210 minutes (3.5 Hours) LRGB (L=120 min (10 min. x 9 & 5 min. x 6) RGB= 1.5 Hours. (10 min. subs)
 Processing CCDSoft, CCDStack, AIP, Photoshop CS2
 Date  09/21/2009
 Location Snow Peak, S/E of Cottage Grove, Oregon 122° 52′ 35″ W, 43° 31′ 21″N
 Conditions 4658′ elevation, magnitude 6 Skies; Clear ; Humidity 65-80% 51 degrees, wind 0-3 M.P.H.


M33 NGC598 Triangulum Galaxy


Telescope / Lens TMB 80 mm f/ 6 with Tele-Vue .8 Reducer TRF2008 / reduced TMB to f/4.8   –  384 mm  Focal Length
Mount Type Astrophysics 1200
 Filters Astrodon LRGB e-series of balanced filters     (generation 1) 9nm HA
 Film  CCD
 Exposure 345 minutes (5.75 Hours) HaLRGB (Ha=50 min; L=145 min; RGB= 150 min.; (5 min. & 10 min. sub-images)
 Processing CCDSoft, CCDStack, AIP, Photoshop CS2
 Date  09/19/2009
 Location Snow Peak, S/E of Cottage Grove, Oregon                122° 52′ 35″ W, 43° 31′ 21″N
 Conditions 4658′ elevation, magnitude 6+ Skies; Clear ;

M 33 (NGC 598) Triangulum Galaxy
M33 is visible to the naked eye from a very dark sky site, Bortle 3 or better.  The Triangulum Galaxy is a very challenging naked eye object but it can be seen.   M33 is a Type SC galaxy belonging to the local group, 0.9 mpc or 3.1 Million Light Years away. This image was taken with a TMB triplet CNC APO 80mm f/6 with a TeleVue .8 reducer / flattener (TRF2008). The full resolution image actually reveals the hint of structure and stars within the many red nebula knots shown throughout its arms. These Nebula (Red areas) are star forming areas much like the Great Orion Nebula (M42) and Eagle Nebula (M16). I had taken a much shorter image years ago with an Orion ED 80 and wanted to really capture more detail. You can also see several background galaxies in this image.

The bright Red nebula (upper right portion) is NGC  604.  NGC form the largest known HII region currently known.  The nebula spans 1500 light years.  M33 itself is approximately 60,000 light years in diameter, home to 40 billion stars.  Our own Milky Way (100,000 LY diameter) is estimated to have 400 Billion stars.