The Andromeda Galaxy:
The Andromeda Galaxy, also known as Messier 31, M31, or NGC 224, is a spiral galaxy approximately 2.5 million light-years from Earth. It is the nearest major galaxy to the Milky Way and was often referred to as the Great Andromeda Nebula in older texts.
The galaxy is approximately 220,000 light years across, and it is the largest of the Local Group, which also contains the Milky Way, the Triangulum Galaxy, and about 44 other smaller galaxies. The mass of the Andromeda is estimated to be 1.5×1012 solar masses, while the Milky Way is estimated to be 8.5×1011 solar masses. The Andromeda Galaxy is approaching the Milky Way at about 110 kilometres per second and expected to collide in 3.75 billion years, eventually merging to form a giant elliptical galaxy or perhaps a large disc galaxy. Like the Milky Way, the Andromeda Galaxy has satellite galaxies, consisting of 14 known dwarf galaxies. The best known and most readily observed satellite galaxies are M32 and M110 (both visible on the photo).
The Andromeda Galaxy is bright enough to be seen with the naked eye, even with some light pollution. It is best seen during autumn nights in the Northern Hemisphere, when from mid-latitudes the galaxy reaches zenith and can be seen almost all night.
Exactly one year ago I tried to shoot the Andromeda Galaxy for the first time. At that time it was my first real deep sky project captured with the 200/1000 f5 newtonian telescope and the Skywatcher Synguider Autoguider system on a small EQ5 Mount. A typical beginners photo but I was really amazed by the results. It was very impressive to experience for the first time the difference between astrophotographical visualization and observational astronomy.
Now, one year later nearly the entire equipment was updated. I sold the small EQ5 mount and bought a Skywatcher NEQ6-SynScan Mount, a real heavy-duty GoTo System which works perfectly with the 8-inch Newtonian tube.
The 200/1000 telescope was not an ideal instrument for dedicated photographical use. Also sold. The new tube is a more faster f4 newtonian system: a 200/800 Altair Astro astrograph. This tube is also a low—budget instrument but fulfilling the requirements for astrophographical use.
The SynGuider Autoguider system was also changed to the Orion StarShoot Autoguider camera. It provides a more comfortable way of autoguiding driven by the PHD Guiding 2 autoguider software on a Macbook Pro.
I have changed also my image-processing algorithm. The Photoshop CS6 was updated with some astrophotographical actions (from Anie) which allow a more sophisticated way to get out the maximum from the raw images.
Altair Astro 200/800 f4 imaging newtonian telescope
Skywatcher NEQ-6 SynScan GoTo Mount
Orion StarShoot Autoguider camera with PHD2 guiding software
Canon 700D (default) camera
Baader MPCC MkIII comacorrector
about 1,5 hours exp. time (24x210s), ISO 800
5 Dark, 7 Bias, 5 Flat.
Stacking with DeepSkyStacker, postprocessing in Photoshop CS6
Image of the entire galaxy
Image of the Nucleus
Flight to the Andromeda (video)