M31 – The Andromeda Galaxy – 6th September 2013

M31 - The Andromeda Nebula - Click to Enlarge

M31 – The Andromeda Galaxy – Click to Enlarge

This is an image of M31, the famous Andromeda Galaxy.  Taken on the HEQ5 with the Revelation 80mm Semi-Apo f6 refractor, with a SkyWatcher Light Pollution filter.  This is a total of 18x 5minute subs at ISO800, plus darks, flats and Bias frames, all stacked in Deep Sky Stacker and finished off in a combination of Photoshop and Lightroom. This is my first attempt at a guided imaging session.  My guidescope is a 9×50 finder guider, with a QHY5v mono guide cam attached.

First attempt

First attempt

The interesting thing about this one is that I had an initial go at processing on the evening I captured the data, and the results were far less pleasing.  I’m not sure what happened, but the first attempt was grainy and totally mono…!  I’m not quite sure what actually happened in this case, but on re-processing, the results were a lot better.  The main difference was that I exported the first attempt from Deep Sky Stacker, whereas on the final one, I used the auto-saved TIFF that DSS produces instead.  Must find out why they’re so different!

M31 Plate Solved

Image Plate Solved

For reference, here’s a plate-solved version of the image, labelled up by Astrobin.  It shows that as well as M31 in the image, we also have M32 and M110.  These are both satellite galaxies of M31 itself.  It is thought that M31 is extremely close in appearance to our own Milky Way galaxy.

M31 itself is the closest galaxy to our own, and of you could see its full glory naked eye, then it would stretch four times the width of the full moon!  It between 3.75 and 4.5 billion years’ time, it will collide with our own galaxy, and they’ll eventually merge to form a giant single galaxy.  The incredible thing about this is that in the process, despite each having hundreds of billions of stars, is that virtually no stars will collide, due to the massive spaces between them.  Blows my mind that one…!

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