The Andromeda Galaxy (M31) in AndromedaClick here to view it on a black background to appreciate shadow and highlight detail
When I was a kid, I remember reading in the newspaper that the Andromeda Galaxy would be visible in the north-eastern sky at a particular time of the night. My father had bought me a pair of Hanimex 7x50 binoculars as a birthday gift and I recall waking up and trying in vain to see this majestic object which was touted as being the most distant visible object to the unaided human eye.
I had no idea what a planisphere was, or what the constellations looked like. I remember reading that I had to look for the Great Square of Pegasus and navigate my way to the galaxy. Alas, I never found it on that night, or on subsequent nights.
Anyhow, that's how my love of astronomy was born.
20-something years later, I have been fortunate enough to photograph this most beautiful of celestial treasure-troves.
I couldn't wait to process this (as will be noted by not adding my normal frame and signature to the image). This was a very rough processing job. I will add some hydrogen alpha to this and re-visit it.
6.5 hours LRGB: 210 60 60 60.
I must say, though, that I am completely in love with PixInsight. What a remarkable piece of software!
M31 is one of the grandest and majestic objects in the night sky, and, easily the most famous galaxy outside of our own Milky Way.
It's easily visible in the northern hemisphere as a hazy patch to the unaided eye about the width of 5 full moons side by side. Those of us in the southern hemisphere must travel to dark sites to truly appreciate this gem.
A couple of years ago at the Albury-Wodonga Border Stargaze star party, I had the utmost pleasure of viewing this galaxy through a binoviewer (binoculars made out of telescopes). I sat in that chair for at least ten minutes with the binoculars glued to my face just marvelling at the grandeur of this galaxy. I could clearly see the brightening towards the nucleus.
I'm also certain that I could resolve M32 and M110, Andromeda's companion galaxies, which you can also see in my image. M32 is the bright spot in the galaxy, and, M101 is below it. Carefully viewing the central nucleus through a telescope reveals dust lanes.
The Hubble Space Telescope's images have shown that M31 has a double nucleus, which leads to the idea that this galaxy may have cannibalised another galaxy at some stage of its evolution.
For many years, astronomers thought that the Andromeda Galaxy was a nebula inside our own galaxy. It wasn't until 1923 when the astronomer, Edwin Hubble, showed that it actually lay outside our host galaxy.
M31 is now thought to be about 2.9 million light years away, and is over 150,000 light years across, with a mass 1.2 trillion times that of our own Sun.
When viewing this image, bear in mind that the light that you're seeing shining from this galaxy, travelled nearly 3 million years for my camera to record it.
I hope you enjoy this image as much as I enjoyed processing it.
Target: The Andromeda Galaxy (M31) in Andromeda
Date(s): August, and September 2011
Detector: SBIG STL-11000M
Telescope: Takahashi FSQ-106N
Focal length: 530mm
Guiding: Self guiding through SBIG STL-11000M
Exposure: LRGB (210 60 60 60); total: 6.5 hours
Exposure: L bin 1x1, RGB bin 2x2
Software: PinPoint LE: astrometric plate solving; MaxIm DL 5: Calibration, astrometric registration, frame registration, normalisation, and sigma clip stacking; PixInsight: composite registration, dynamic background extraction and background equalisation, colour calibration, non-linear histogram stretching, colour combination, morphological transformation, noise reduction; Adobe Photoshop CS5: post-processing and framing
Edit: stoked at my fourth Daily Deviation. Thank you so much
(^IsacGoulart) for featuring me.