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By Red Dwarfer
Hi all ,
Is anyone else having trouble finding or observing M51 Whirlpool Galaxy near Ursa Major ? I tried to find it for the first time last night but gave up after ten minutes ... then tonight I thought I'd give it another try , this time first with binoculars , and relatively quickly found what looked like a faint fuzz in that general area . When I located it with the 200P at x 75 magnification ( 32mm and x 2 Barlow ) l could just make out two faint but distinct blobs , the main light core of the Galaxy and the light core of the tail as well but both were quite faint in this lighter region of the N/W Summer sky , compared to M57 in Hercules for example . Is M51 best left as a Winter target or is it just better observed with a bigger scope ?
In 2017 I went through a major upgrade of my imaging equipment and moved from a SW NEQ6/SW ED 80 to a SW Esprit 150/10micron GM1000HPS combination. In the course of testing my new mount in unguided mode I took some M51 Lum test shots at 600 and 1800s with the Esprit 150. Rather than waste this data I decided to see if I could use it to try to improve an Ha + LRGB image that I had acquired in 2016 with my NEQ6/ED 80 combination.
Since I've never tried to blend data from two difference telescopes, I decided to take the lower resolution post processed Ha + LRGB image and to treat it as "RGB" data (this image can be seen in my gallery Deep Sky II M51 reprocessed). I then took the higher resolution Lum data that I had acquired with the Esprit 150 and used this as a Luminosity layer within PS (I aligned the Lum and "RGB" data via Registar). After a little processing in Pixinsight and PS I got the above result.
I decided to attempt to enhance my M51 image taken with my SW 80 ED/NEQ6 last year with some Luminescence data that I had acquired through some unguided test shots with my new SW Esprit 150/10micron GM1000HPS combination.
Since I've never tried to combine data from two difference scopes, I decided to simply overlay the post processed result of my previous attempt with the new luminescence data and aligned the images via Registar. After a bit of processing in PS and Pixinsight I got the result below. The image represents just over 9 hours integration time.
LIGHTS ED 80: L:11,R:10,G:9,B:8 x 600s. Ha: 2 x 1200s. LIGHTS Esprit 150: L:5 x 600s, 2x1800s. DARKS: 30; BIAS:100; FLATS:40
By Davide Simonetti
Wow, what a difference a dark sky and a fast scope makes! It's been a while since I last imaged this galaxy and this time I tried it using the 150mm Newtonian on its first outing to a place with much darker skies than murky north London where I usually operate from. This shot was done from Kelvedon Common in Essex and the difference between this and my earlier attempts is incredible - I could see from the first sub that this was going to be a vast improvement. Once it was stacked it needed very little processing. I wish more than ever to move out of the city now
20 x 120 second exposures at 400 ISO (58 minutes integration time).
12 x dark frames
79 x flat frames
21 x bias/offset frames (subtracted from flat frames only)
Captured with APT
Guided with PHD2
Processed in Nebulosity and Photoshop
Skywatcher EQ5 Mount
Orion 50mm Mini Guide Scope
ZWO ASI120 MC imaging and guiding camera
Canon 700D DSLR