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M31 Andromeda Galaxy "Neighbor of a Grand Design"

Astronomy Magazine POD 20th FEB 2013


Drifting through the cosmos a mere two and a half million light-years distant, the Andromeda Galaxy is the most voluminous of the galaxies in the Local Group, which includes our own Milky Way galaxy. Visible to the unaided eye in a dark location, the central core can be seen as a tiny smudge. In a moderate telescope, M31 can be seen with its two largest satellite galaxies; M32 and M110.


Located in its namesake constellation, Andromeda contains roughly a trillion stars not including the 14 known satellite galaxies gravitationally bound to it.


Visible in this photograph are the dusty lanes of stellar debris visible as the dark bands. The remnants of stellar deaths, this material will be recycled into new stars and planets as gravitational forces compress the matter within the chaotic environment.


M31 and our own Milky Way Galaxy are on a collision course. Expected to collide in roughly four and a half billion years, it should certainly provide a spectacular show for anyone around to witness its approach.


Unless you look closely you probably won't notice the "subtle" difference between this and my previous LRGB image This version includes the H-Alpha filter shoot that highlights the HII Regions and nebulae within the Andromeda Galaxy, some of which are larger than the Great Orion Nebula within our very own Milky Way Galaxy.


The image consists of 2 minute combined with 5 and 10 minute exposures for the luminance, 5 and 10 minute exposures for the RGB, 15 minute exposures with QHY9C one shot color CCD and finally 20 minute exposures using H-Alpha filter with QHY9M monochrome CCD Camera.


Clear Skies



Image Information

Location: DownUnder Observatory, Fremont MI

Date of Shoot August 13, 21, 22 and 23 2012


QHY9M mono CCD


18 x 10 min

23 x 5 min

26 x 2 min

RGB 6 x 5 min

9 x 10 min

26 x 2 min

23 x 5 min

18 x 10 min

H-Alpha 11 x 20 min


13 x 15 min

all sub exposures un binned.


Camera: QHY9M monochrome CCD & QHY9C one shot color CCD, cooled to -30C

StarlightXpress Color Filter Wheel

Scope: Thomas M. Back TMB 92SS F5.5 APO Refractor

Astro Tech AT2FF Field Flattener

For guiding: StarlightXpress Lodestar autoguider, StarlightXpress Ultra Slim Off Axis guider

Paramount GT-1100S German Equatorial Mount (with MKS 4000)

Image Aquisition software Nebulosity II for OSC and Maxim DL for mono CCD

Stacking software Deep Sky Stacker for OSC and CCDStack for mono CCD

Registration of images in Registar

Post Processing Photoshop CS5


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Taken on August 27, 2012