Bode’s Galaxy

Bode's Galaxy (Messier 81) - a fuzzy blob and some bright speks against a dark background
Bode’s Galaxy (Messier 81)

Another year has flown by with not as much time for astronomy and astrophotography as I’d like. Light pollution is terrible from my observing location in East London, so only the brightest deep sky objects are really suitable targets for me (at least until I get a decent filter, or go for narrowband imaging £££).

Earlier this year I tried to image M81, but managed to miss the part of the sky they were in. I ended up with two hours of imaging on a fairly blank area of sky. Yesterday I decided I’d try again. With the galaxy nicely placed in the sky and due to get higher and better for imaging as the night progressed, I set up and started collecting images. I ended up with 45 x 240s exposures, excluding those with satellite and aircraft trails, and star trails I used 39 exposures to make the imafe above.

It’s not perfect – the stars are slightly tear-drop shaped, suggesting there’s some misalignment  between the telescope and camera. This means the galaxy itself is also not as sharp as it should be.

I’m also still very much a novice when it comes to processing the image to bring out the best in them.

I’ll revisit this galaxy many more times over the years, but this is my starting point. Here’s hoping i can improve upon it.