Bode's Galaxy and the Cigar Galaxy

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Jared Willson Senior Member • Posts: 1,138
Bode's Galaxy and the Cigar Galaxy
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This has always been one of my favorite pairs in the spring sky. Bode's Galaxy is one of the most picturesque spirals out there with tightly wound arms and highly contrasting dust lanes, while the nearby Cigar Galaxy shows where it get's it's moniker of "starburst galaxy". A recent gravitational interaction between the two galaxies is thought to be the source of the star formation in the Cigar's core which shows as the intense galactic winds throwing tendrils of gas and dust out of the core--the read wispy structures emanating from the cigar.

Bode's Galaxy, M81, is a so-called "grand design" spiral galaxy because the arms are obvious to see and wrap around the galaxy in a continuous manner, rather than being multiple, broken fragments. The red dots distributed throughout M81's spiral arms are HII regions of ionized gas where new stars are being created.

This image represents just under five hours of data captured in a 305mm aperture f/3.7 telescope. L,R,G, and B frames were captured as well as H-Alpha frames. The H-alpha light was blended into both the luminance and red channels of the image to make the emission regions "pop" a bit. Otherwise, colors are calibrated against G2V stars for accuracy. A mount with absolute encoders was used to track the night sky so that auto guiding would not be required. The camera used has the same Sony chip as the A7RIV, except in a monochrome, cooled form. The monochrome version allows data to be captured faster than with an RGB camera, and the cooling lowers the noise from long exposures.

NINA software was used for data acquisition. APCC software was used to build a tracking model for the mount. PixInsight was used for all image processing. I wish I could get a deeper exposure in a reasonable amount of time, but I'm imaging from a heavily light polluted city (Oakland, California), so this is about all that's possible without putting a lot more hours into the project.

Thanks for looking. As always, constructive feedback is welcome.

- Jared

Bode's Galaxy and the Cigar Galaxy

 Jared Willson's gear list:Jared Willson's gear list
Leica Q2 Leica SL2 Hasselblad X1D II 50C Leica SL 90-280mm F2.8–4 Hasselblad XCD 30mm F3.5 +8 more
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