M51 ‘Whirlpool Galaxy’

By Anton Winter

Taken on the night of Friday 13th of May 2016, from my backyard in the San Francisco Peninsula, this is Messier 51 ‘Whirlpool Galaxy. The main galaxy you see here (M51a or NGC 5194) is actually interacting with the one to the left in this image (M51b or NGC 5194).

Using my IR modified Canon 550D and an Orion ED80T Carbon Fiber scope this was a reasonably small target in the overall frame, so it’s taken me a few days to get a reasonable image. Most of that however was due to a bad bias frame used for pre-processing that was playing havoc with the rest of my workflow.

The ’light’ exposure data gathered totalled 119 minutes:

  • 6 x 10 minutes
  • 11 x 5 minutes
  • 1 x 2 minutes
  • 2 x 1 minute

In addition to the above light frames I also took respective bias, flat and dark frames.