M101 – Pinwheel Galaxy

I have posted a picture of M101 in the past with a description, but since this is a new picture I will give you a new description.

M101 discovered on March 27, 1781 by Pierre Méchain was one of the last Messier objects added to Charles Messier’s catalog. Identified as a “spiral nebula” before they knew there were other galaxies in the Universe. This relatively faint galaxy can be quite a challenge to spot, and the central core is the most visible portion of it in smaller telescope with the possibility of spotting hints of the spiral arms from dark sky sites. The exact distance of the galaxy isn’t set in stone it is somewhere around 24 +/- 2 million light-years away, and has a linear diameter of over 170,000 light-years making it one of the biggest disk galaxies.

'X' Marks the spot for M101

‘X’ Marks the spot for M101

Visually from my backyard I was able to barely make out the core of this galaxy. It could have easily been mistaken as a very dim comet, or a small dim star with a slight nebulosity around it. The easiest way I found it is the surrounding stars in my finder scope. To ensure that I had this galaxy in my field of view I had to take a 30 second exposure.

M101 The Pinwheel Galaxy 03-16-13

This image is made from 39 images at 2 minutes a piece for a total of 1 hour and 18 minutes total exposure time, shot at ISO 800 – like most of my images since it seems to be the sweet spot for the Canon 350D giving me the least amount of noise per frame. I had shot a total of 45 images, but threw out a few due to a bit of star trailing caused by gear slip on my mount.

These images were extremely hard to work with considering the light pollution. I spent many hours trying everything I could to remove light pollution and preserving as much detail and color as I could.

Omni XLT 150 with CG-4 mount
Canon 350D
T-ring and adapter
Polar Scope for alignment

2 thoughts on “M101 – Pinwheel Galaxy

    • Hey Gordon. I’m currently just viewing from my backyard in Cumberland Head, or sometimes over the summer I’ll go to the park in Cumberland Head. I’d like to find a nice spot in Lewis since it’s much darker there, but I haven’t gone out and scouted for an area to view yet.

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