M101

Last summer I had some time to stay up late and take some astrophotographs. This is my first attempt at taking a picture of M101 galaxy. In astrophotography the exposures have to be quite long (compared to regular standards) and this, coupled with the fact that the earth spins, makes it quite tricky. It means you have to keep the telescope/camera assembly pointed at the right part of the sky for the length of the exposure. I used a digital camera for the shot, but due to the ‘noise’ that develops from the CCD (the electronic version of film) you are limited to the length of the exposure. The solution is to take more, shorter exposures and ‘add’ them together in something like Photoshop. My tracking is off a bit (the stars aren’t exactly round) and that is partly due to the poor quality of my telescope mount (donations for a new fancier and shmancier mount are gratefully accepted :) ). If you want to see what the Hubble space telescope sees when it looks at this galaxy, check out this page. I downloaded the high resolution image and it’s now my background on my dual monitor setup. It’s breathtaking and my image is nowhere near the quality of this amazing mosaic.