M51 and M101 from last few days

Most of my nights in the last few weeks have been spent in the garden doing astrophotography. I have been up until 3am most nights trying to make full use of my leave, as this will not be possible when I go back to work.

The equipment I used was my Astrotech 8″ Ritchey-Chretien telescope (1600mm F8), mounted on my Celestron CGEM equatorial mount, full-spectrum Olympus E-PL5, the Orion thin off-axis guider, with Lacerta MGEN doing the guiding. I used the Astronomik CLS-CCD light pollution filter to reduce the effects of the street lights around where I live. I do think that the streetlights around my neighborhood are likely high pressure Sodium rather than low-pressure bulbs, as the Baader Neodymium filter is not effective for it at all.

Here are two photos that I would like to share. These are probably the best images I have ever achieved, as I have never been able to image for longer than 2 1/2 minutes previously.

M51 Whirlpool Galaxy (2 hours of exposure comprised of 4 min and 8 min subs at ISO 3200)

M51 Whirlpool Galaxy
M51 Whirlpool Galaxy

M101 Pinwheel Galaxy (38 minutes of exposure comprised of 4 min and 8 min subs at ISO 3200) – hence the image is still very grainy

M101 Pinwheel galaxy
M101 Pinwheel galaxy

I am very pleased with the images I have managed to capture, and I will now try to work through the few others I have been meaning to image (Black-eye Galaxy, Sombrero Galaxy, Sunflower Galaxy, Bode’s Galaxy, Cigar Galaxy and others) when I do get clear skies and time to image.

I have to say that the Astrotech 8″ Ritchey-Chretien telescope is a great telescope for imaging as it manages to capture great images and holds its collimation very well. But the success in imaging has given me the upgrade bug, to get a larger and faster telescope which will hopefully allow me to capture more in less time. Well, at least that is the hope I have.

Boon