M31 – Our Closest Galactic Neighbour
Presenting my first go at broadband (i.e. full RGB) imaging with the new Player One Ares-C Pro camera, and also first light with a new Askar 230mm f4.5 Triplet lens, this is M31, the Andromeda Galaxy. At around 2.5 light years distant, it’s our closest galactic neighbour. It’s actually heading towards our galaxy at around 68 miles per second, and will merge with the Milky Way in about 2.5-3 billion years. Even though each galaxy contains a couple of hundred billion stars, it’s very unlikely any of those stars will actually collide when the galaxies merge… Blows my mind that one!
this is an object that I’ve not really gone for much, despite being a very common astro-imaging target. Partly, as it’s so massive! It’s around 3 degrees in total, which is six times the width of the full moon. It’s also the only galaxy to be easily visible with the naked eye from a dark sky site. The field of view of my new Askar 230mm f4.5 lens gives me a perfect sized bit of sky for capturing it at its best. The Samyang 135mm is actually a bit wide…
As part of the image processing, we can remove the stars, and then put them back at the end (which is to do with bringing out the details in the object itself without making the stars look odd). There’s something ethereal about these starless image sometimes. I’ve included the starless version here too. It’s often easy to forget that all those stars are in the foreground – i.e. in OUR galaxy, and we’re looking through them to see M31…
I’d like to add more Into this one by capturing some tri-band data, which will hopefully give me some hydrogen alpha to add in, as there are definitely some nice red H2 regions to bring out…
Capture and Processing Information - M31
- Object – M31 – The Andromeda Galaxy
- Constellation – Andromeda
- Camera – Player One Ares-C Pro One-shot-colour.
- Exposure – 107.5 minutes of 90-sec subs
- Scope – Askar 230mm f4.5 Triplet lens
- Filter – Astronomik Luminance
- Mount – Skywatcher HEQ5 with Rowan Belt Mod
- Guidescope – Altair 60mm Finder-guider
- Guidecam – SX Lodestar
- Guide Software – PHD2
- Capture Software – NINA
- Stacking, Colour Combination, and Initial Processing – MaximDL
- Post-Processing – MaximDL, StarNet2, Photoshop 2024 and Lightroom Classic 2024.