• Acquisition Date/s: 7 May 2022
  • Location: Private Observatory in Castilléjar, Spain
  • OTA: Omegon Ritchey-Chretien Pro RC 304/2432 12-inch Carbon Fiber Truss
  • Mount: Sky-Watcher EQ8-R Pro
  • Imaging: ASI2600MC Pro (SONY IMX571 CMOS); Temp: -12°C; Binning: 1
  • Guiding: ASI120MM Mini (AR0130CS 1/3″ sensor)
  • Guide Scope: Orion ShortTube 80mm, 400mm focal length, f/5 Refractor
  • Filters: None
  • Acquisition Software: Voyager
  • Stacking & Calibration: PixInsight 1.8.8-12 Ripley — 116 subframes, 1.5 total integration time
  • Processing: PixInsight 1.8.8-12 Ripley; Photoshop 2022; Topaz DeNoise AI
  • Designations: M51, NCG 5195
  • Object Type: Spiral Galaxy
  • Coordinates: R.A. 13h 30m 50s; Dec. 47° 05′ 06″
  • Constellation: Canes Venatici (Hunting Dogs)
  • Distance: 31 million light-years
  • Mag(v): 8.4
  • Copyright: All rights reserved.

Gallery Hyperlink (click here for a larger version of the image)

Description

Messier 51, the Whirlpool galaxy, is approximately 31 million light-years from Earth and is roughly 76,000 light-years in diameter. Charles Messier discovered this galaxy in 1773 in the Canes Venatici, or Hunting Dogs, constellation. The face-on view of the galaxy’s spiral arms makes this a fascinating galaxy to study.

The blue colour comes from younger, high-temperature stars, while the yellow is from older, cooler stars. Dust clouds obscure the black hole in the centre of the spiral. M51 is also interesting because it interacts with NGC 5195, a dwarf galaxy, on one of its outermost arms. NGC 5195 is behind M51 but close enough for the two galaxies to affect each other. Some believe that the pronounced arms of M51 are due to NGC 5195’s presence. Dust clouds are also visible in the spiral structure and feed increased star forming activities throughout the galaxy.

M51 is the brightest of a small group of galaxies, including M63, the Sunflower Galaxy, NGC 5023, and NGC 5229. In 2020 the Chandra X-Ray Observatory detected what might be the first planet discovered outside our own Milky Way galaxy.

This image was a quick result from only 116 subframes while I tested some new adjustments to my telescope configuration. After some complex weather constraints over the past two months, I enjoyed this quick result and decided to post it here. There is a lot to improve on this image still. I feel that I had to do far more post-processing than I would like to get this result. Mostly this is because of the limited number of subs for this stacked image, but the seeing conditions on the night they were taken were also not ideal. The jet stream activity and high-altitude clouds created some challenges resulting in the fuzzy stars. Guiding accuracy needs to improve to get better pin-point stars, so post-processing sharpening does not create the artefacts seen in this image.