IOM April 2010 – interacting galaxy pair M51 in Canes Venatici – the whirlpool galaxy

April brings the Ursa Major/Canes Venatici objects into a good imaging position.  Our Imaging Object of the Month this month is the interacting galaxy pair M51 known as the whirlpool galaxy.  M51 lies 15 million light years away in the direction of the constellation Canes Venatici.  Although M51 is pretty bright, there is a great deal of fine structure and also some close-by faint fuzzies that will only be pulled out by using long subs, and many of them.  What’s particularly nice about M51 is that nearby there is a very handy 8th magnitude star which is perfect for autoguiding on 🙂

A smaller field of view (than I can manage) is better for this object, and this is true for most galaxies come to that – so this is not a particularly good subject for either the Sky 90/M25C or the HyperstarIII/M25C – however I still can’t resist imaging it whenever I get the chance (along with M101, and M81/82).  The accompanying image was taken with the original Hyperstar and the SXV-H9C one-shot colour camera, giving an FOV of roughly 1 x 0.75 degrees – still too big really!  I found that the C11 with the f#6.3 reducer and the H9C camera gave just about the perfect FOV for M51 which filled the field of view very nicely if placed along the camera’s diagonal.

Until May, clear skies to you all!

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