Andromeda galaxy

One of the other objects I did some imaging on was the Andromeda galaxy M31. This is a relatively bright (apparent magnitude 3.44) and large galaxy which requires wide-field to capture all of it. I might try to image this when the skies are clear with the Panasonic 100-300mm F4-5.6 micro 4/3rds lens, as it will have a larger aperture than my Skywatcher ED80 and be able to capture all of the galaxy.I took about 29 x 1 minute subs of this object using ISO 1600 and 3200. Equipment used were: Full-spectrum Olympus E-PL5, Skywatcher ED80, iOptron ZEQ25, 2″ Astronomik CLS-CCD filter. It was only afterwards during processing that it became apparent that the focal length of 1200mm was too long to image the whole of the galaxy.

Again the first image is of a single 1 minute sub unstretched. In future I shall ensure that the camera is turned so the Andromeda galaxy is aligned correctly on the camera so as to aid capturing all of it.

Andromeda galaxy - single 1 minute sub
Andromeda galaxy – single 1 minute sub

As you can see, I was unable to capture the entire galaxy. But with the right focal length, it should be possible to do better. Hopefully with long enough exposures and enough subs, I will be able to get an even better image of this big galaxy.

Andromeda galaxy stacked image
Andromeda galaxy stacked image

I have to say that setting the iOptron ZEQ25 up is a piece of cake. I am able to get everything up and polar aligned within 10minutes. And the polar alignment seems to be very accurate as well, which is great – no need for drift alignment. I have now attached a compass to the tripod and am using it to orientate it to the North, so that once it is aligned properly to the North, I can do the leveling and polar alignment.

But the one piece of bad news is to do with the periodic error correction. It appears that there is no way to record the PEC permanently, as it does not appear that it has an index to the worm gear. Once the power is switched off, the recording is lost which means that for subsequent imaging sessions you will need to reprogramme this. Looks like I will have to forget about PEC training. That is such a shame.

But on the positive side, I have read that guiding with this mount works very well, so that there is no need to do PEC. So that will be the next test that I need to do when I get a chance.