M51 | Giacomo Pro’

Astropod, Galaxies

Astropod | May 15th 2023

The Whirlpool Galaxy, known as Messier 51 (M51), is a grand design spiral galaxy found in the constellation Canes Venatici. With its distinct spiral arms and interacting companion galaxy (NGC 5195), M51 is one of the most famous galaxies in the night sky. It is also one of the most studied galaxies due to its relatively close proximity to Earth, at approximately 23 million light-years away. These features make M51 a favorite subject among astrophotographers.

M51 | Credit: Giacomo Pro'
M51 | Credit: Giacomo Pro’

For Giacomo Pro’, the lure of capturing the celestial beauty of M51 was irresistible. His image showcases the brilliant core, the spiral arms dotted with bright star-forming regions and the dynamic interaction with its companion galaxy. This image not only highlights M51’s stunning features but also showcases Giacomo’s technical prowess and artistic vision.

Gear and equipment used

To capture the Whirlpool Galaxy, Giacomo Pro’ used the following equipment:

Camera: ZWO Astronomy Cameras 224 mc
Telescope: GSO 200/800 f/4 + coma corrector 1X
Guide Camera: Asi 120 mini
Guide Scope: 50-250mm
Mount: Skywatcher Eq 6-r Pro
Filter: Optolong Astronomy Filter L-Pro
Acquisition Device: ZWO ASIAIR Plus

Location

The image was captured in Manduria, a town located in the Apulia region of Italy. The location offers good viewing conditions for capturing deep-sky objects like the Whirlpool Galaxy.

Image acquisition details

The image was obtained over the nights of March 23 and March 24, 2023. Giacomo used a light frame of 550 shots at 60 seconds each. This long exposure time allowed him to capture the faint details of M51 and its interacting companion galaxy.

Image processing techniques

For image processing, Giacomo used DeepSkyStacker (DSS), PixInsight, and Photoshop. These software solutions offer a wide range of tools for stacking, aligning, calibrating, and enhancing astrophotographs. Using these tools, Giacomo was able to bring out the intricate details and vibrant colors of the Whirlpool Galaxy.

Significance of the image

This image of the Whirlpool Galaxy is significant because it showcases the beauty of one of the most well-known galaxies in the night sky. It represents the interaction of two galaxies, offering a glimpse into the dynamic processes that shape our universe. Furthermore, the image demonstrates the power of modern astrophotography equipment and techniques, as amateur astrophotographers like Giacomo Pro’ can capture images that rival those obtained by professional observatories.

Photographer credits

Giacomo Pro’ is the dedicated astrophotographer who captured this fantastic image of the Whirlpool Galaxy. His passion for astrophotography is evident in the level of detail and artistry present in his work. You can explore more of Giacomo’s work and follow his astrophotography journey on his Astrobin page, Instagram and Facebook accounts.

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