M82 (Cigar Galaxy)
Size: about 9' x 4'
Distance: 12 million light years
RA: 9h 55.8m
Dec: 69 degrees 41'
M82 is the smaller companion galaxy to
M81 and was discovered by Johann Bode in 1774. It has an odd,
oblong shape that is thought to have arisen from gravitational
interaction with M81 millions of years ago. High resolution
color images of M82 show dramatic tendrils of red gas shooting from
the center of the galaxy, which can be appreciated more readily on a magnified view of the
present image. I intend to image this galaxy in Ha light in the
near future, in order to capture this outwardly expanding gas in
Date: December 11, 2004.
Scope: Takahashi Epsilon 250mm aperture,
F/3.8 astrograph (850mm focal length) mounted on a Paramount GT1100ME
mount, located in an observatory near Mahill, New Mexico. I
accomplished scope/autoguider set up and image acquisition by remote
control over the internet from my home in Needham, MA. A zip file
of the raw subexposures was downloaded after completion of the session,
ready for processing. Scope time was rented through Rent-A-Scope.
Camera and autoguider: ST-8XE CCD camera (NABG).
Filter: Custom Scientific Clear filter.
Exposures: Luminance: 57' total (19 x 3'),
Conditions: Clear skies in New Mexico. Cloudy in
Post-processing: Blooms were
removed using Ron Wodaski's DeBloomer plug-in for Maxim. All images
were then dark, bias, and flat frame calibrated. Alignment
done in MaximDL.
combined using RC Sigma Reject plug-in for Maxim. DDP and
gradient correction performed
processing including levels and curves adjustments in Photoshop CS (16
bit format). Sharpening was accomplished
with a combination of high pass filtering in PS (radius 4, overlay
mode), and unsharp masking in PS (amount 100%; radius 1).
As for my image of M81,
this is a work
in progress- I eventually plan to make a composite color image that
includes both M81 and M82, with a widefield background obtained through
note: Graphics on this website
may not be reproduced without author permission.
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