The Whirlpool Galaxy ... Messier 51
(Click on Picture for larger view)


Added February 21, 2020 ...
The Whirlpool Galaxy ... Messier 105 with NGC 5195
Primary target for Friday night, Feb 21 was Messier 51 ... The Whirlpool Galaxy. I captured 2 hours of data that night using no filters. The next night was also very clear and I captured over 2 hours of data using the Altair Quadband filter. The total image time for this view was 4hr 20mn.

This spiral galaxy is about 23 million light-years away. In the sky, it is located near the end of the handle of the Big Dipper in the constellation of Canes Venatici and contains more than 100 billion stars (about half the size of our own Milky Way Galaxy). Above it is the much smaller dwarf companion, known as NGC 5195. Total exposure: 4hr 20mn. It is interesting as to how the gravitational forces between the two is distorting the shapes of the circulation. This galaxy is high in the NE sky around midnight in mid February.




Map of Location of M51

The Star Betelgeuse

The planet Venus

The Sun ... No Sunspots visible

Beside the main target, I also had several secondary targets to consider before the rising of M51. First was the sun. I took its picture with the Orion ED80T telescope with a solar filter. Notice how clean it is with no sunspots. We are currently at the minimum of the 11 year solar cycle. The planet Venus is shining brilliantly in the WSW evening sky, however, I took this image in the late afternoon a few hours BEFORE sunset. I used this to make my video on Youtube Viewing Venus in the Daytime. Then there is the star with all the ongoing social media buzz ... Betelgeuse. This star is showing possible signs of it to go "supernova", meaning, exploding. It eventually will, but that could be anywhere from very soon to a couple of a million years. Betelgeuse is about 700 light-years from earth, so this is what the star looked like 700 years ago. If it blew up today, we wouldn't see it until 700 years from now. And not to worry, if it had already blown up, the shock wave would not affect us, once it gets here.


The Techy Stuff ... For those who want to know ...
Telescope: 11" Celestron Edge HD at f/10
Mount: Celestron CGX
Mount setting and alignment via Celestron PWI software
Rig to Indoor Computer Connection: USB 2 196 feet Extender via cat 6 cable
System Alignment: Celestron StarSense
Camera: Altair Hypercam 294c Pro TEC
Binning: 2x2
Sensor Temp: -15°C (5°F)
Filter: Altair Quadband (Narrowband)
Settings: Gain: 450
24 Sub-Frames at 300sec ea (2hr) (No Filter)
28 Sub-Frames at 300sec ea (2hr) (Quadband Filter)
Calibration Frames: 16 Dark, 40 Flats & Dark-Flats
Guiding: Orion Digital StarShoot Mono camera & 60mm Altair Scope
Guiding Software: PHD2 V2.6.7
Capture Software: SharpCap Pro
Stacked in Deep Sky Stacker @ 2x Drizzle
Post processing in PixInsight & Photoshop CC
Focus Controller: Celestron Auto Focuser
Light Pollution: Bortle zone 4.5 (Barely can see the Milky Way)
Sky Condition: 10 (0-10 with 10 the clearest possible)
Lunar Interference: None
Temperature: 37°F (2.8°C)
Date: February 21,22, 2020
Location: My Backyard, Savannah, GA




Earlier view of this target: The Whirlpool Galaxy, January 30, 2019


Return to Pat Prokop's Heavenly Backyard Astronomy Page