With the moon brighter than we’d like, Jack and I attempted another capture of the Whirlpool Galaxy during an clear spell a couple of nights ago. Instead taking one long exposure like we did the first go, we shot several shorter frames (about 30 seconds each) and then used stacking software to assemble more than 20 shots into one image. The results were decent. But we’ll keep trying!
The Whirlpool Galaxy
Messier 51. This galaxy is invisible to the naked eye.
22 stacked 30 second frames
Canon EOS 6D Mark II
Celestron Nexstar Edge 8″ Telescope
Having the ability to image a galaxy that’s more than 23 million light years away and invisible to the naked eye sort of messes up my head. Okay, not sort of.
Look at this image taken by the Hubble Telescope. Look at the detail!
We had no business astrophotography-ing with so much moon last night, but the night was warm so we took the opportunity to get familiar with the equipment and the night sky. Here is a less than memorable image of M97 Owls Head Nebula, plus M108 Surfboard Galaxy. Plus a satellite streaking across the frame like a scratch.
If you want to freak out, in a good way, try messing around with astrophotography. It’s science magic.
We attached my camera to the telescope, pointed it at a specific star in the Big Dipper (Ursa Major) and opened the shutter for three minutes. Voilà! When the camera was done, we had this. The Whirlpool Galaxy. And I did a little happy dance in the back yard.
This is out there. In the sky. And thanks to technology I can see what Galileo dreamed about, and understood far better than I ever might.
March 9, 2021
We took advantage of last night’s balmy 30° temps and clear sky to photograph the Orion Nebula. This was our first try and I think, even by my celebrated never-quite-good-enough standards, the results were pretty damn good for a first go.
I still have so much to learn about astrophotography but it’s mind bending to know that Orion Nebula is about 1,350 light years away, so the light captured last night had been traveling since about 671.
And for those who care, it’s a single frame, 43 second exposure using a Celestron Nexstar 8” and the Canon 6D Mark II.