A neighbouring group of galaxies: the M81 Galaxy Cluster

January 26, 2017

Giants of the M81 Galaxy Cluster

 Altair Astro Imaging Newtonian Telescope 200/800 f4 on EQ6-PRO GOTO Mount and Autoguiding with Orion StarShoot Autoguider. Camera: modified Canon EOS 700D DSLR Camera with Astronomik CLS Light Pollution filter. 44x5min exposures, ISO 800



The M81 Group of galaxies:


The M81 Group is a galaxy group in the constellations Ursa Major and Camelopardalis that includes the galaxies Messier 81 and Messier 82, as well as several other galaxies. It is one of the nearest groups to our Local Group of galaxies. The M81 Group, the Local Group, and other nearby groups all lie within the Virgo Supercluster (i.e. the Local Supercluster/Laniakea Supercluster). Other  known members of our home supercluster are for example the M101 Group as well as the M51 Group which I shooted for about one year ago. These images can be visited in the Gallery "First Steps".


The Messier 81 - Bode´s Galaxy

Crop and fine-tuning of the original image of both galaxies


Bode´s Galaxy:


Messier 81 (also known as NGC 3031 or Bode's Galaxy) is a spiral galaxy about 12 million light-years away in the constellation Ursa Major. The galaxy's large size and relatively high brightness make it a popular target for amateur astronomers. 


The Messier 82 - Cigar Galaxy

Crop and fine-tuning of the original image of both galaxies


Cigar Galaxy:


Messier 82 (also known as Cigar Galaxy) is a starburst galaxy about 12 million light-years away in the constellation Ursa Major. It is about five times more luminous than the whole Milky Way and has a center one hundred times more luminous than our galaxy's center. The starburst activity is thought to have been triggered by interaction with neighboring galaxy M81.


About the Image:


The new moon period of January 2017 was my richest astrophotographic session until now. I could complete two projects: first the Great Orion Nebula as a second part of my Orion series and the present one about the M81 Galaxy group, located exactly on the opposite side of the celestial hemisphere, outside our galaxy at the distance of 12 million light-years. After some software setup problems I could start with shooting and did not stopped until 3,5 hours exposition in summary. This area of the sky shows significantly fewer foreground stars of the Milky way because we are looking away from our galactic center. The entire field of the 81 group was too big for my 800 mm telescope and without crop-tool it was impossible to get a compositionally balanced image of these two brightest galaxies. I am still satisfied with the results....


As I write this article on the 26th of January I still have some days to begin with a third deep sky project until the moon arrives. I hope that the weather will the same...









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