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Dan Lessmann

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M51, The Whirlpool Galaxy


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M51, a beautiful spiral galaxy in Canes Venatici is about 35 million light years distant and is estimated to be about 100,000 light years in diameter.  M51 consists of the main galaxy, NGC 5194, and a satellite galaxy, NGC 5195, that is connected via one of the spiral arms of the main galaxy.  Both together are also cataloged as ARP 85, part of Halton Arp's peculiar galaxy catalog.  In urban skies, both galactic cores are visible through a moderate aperture telescope.  From dark sky, the spiral arm detail and dust lanes begin to be visible.  Because of the gravitational stirring that takes place between these two galaxies, M51 is a galaxy of active star birth.  The knots of brighter areas in the spiral arms are star nurseries where new stars are being born.  Narrow band mages filtered for hydrogen alpha light show these regions as red knots interspersed in the spiral arms.


Directly below the NGC 5195 is the irregular galaxy IC 4278.  Below and left of NGC 5195 is the edge on spiral galaxy IC 4277.  Both of these galaxies are much more distant than M51.


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Date:  5/12/2007

Location:  CRO

Telescope:  LX200 10" SCT, f/10

Mount:  AP-1200

Camera:  Hutech modified Canon 350D, ISO 800

Exposure Count:  29 @ 5 minutes, 2 hours, 25 minutes total exposure.

Guiding:  CCD Soft with ST402ME, Orion 80ED

Post Processing:

ImagesPlus:  Dark and flat calibration, align and combine, digital development

Photoshop CS2:  Smart sharpen, levels, curves

NeatImage:  Noise reduction


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Last Updated: 11/12/2014  -  Copyright 2004-2013 by Dan Lessmann.  All rights reserved.  Please click here for my usage policy.