180 minutes (3 hours ); LRGB (L=120,RGB=60) 5 min. exposures
CCDSoft, CCDStack, AIP, Photoshop CS2
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 Galaxy NGC 5457 Pinwheel Galaxy in Ursa Major
Telescope / Lens
TEC 140mm f/7
LRGB of 4 hours 20 minutes (L=10x20min.; color 5min. sub-frames) -20° C
CCDSoft, AIP4Win, CCDStack & Photoshop CS2
Snow Peak, 30 miles SE of Cottage Grove, Oregon 122° 52′ 35″ W 43° 31′ 21″ N
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
Comet McNaught C/2006 P1 was a great naked eye comet. However in Oregon, it appeared while we had a snow storm in Eugene. The above image was taken at Fern Ridge Reservoir with thousands of Canadian Geese flying about, some of them appear in this image. The comet was very close to the sun at this latitude and very difficult to image.