My First Galaxies, M1, M81 and M82

Ok, lets just be clear here........I'm still new to this, and the struggle is real! Especially the post processing. BUT, a first is a first, and it is progress :-)

Last night was really clear, so decided to venture out into the garden with the scope.

I set up the scope and the the rough North alignment using GPS Essentials on my phone and mount levelling with the inbuilt spirit level, while it was still daylight, then just as the wind was dying off as usual towards the end of daylight, I took the scope outside and mounted it, and did a quick balance check.

Next up I opened PolarAlignerPro on my mobile, and put that against the scope body to do a rough polar align.

Now I just waited and watched as the daylight started to fade. Venus was already clearly visible in the West, but took a while for Polaris to show up in the scope finder.

Once Polaris arrived, I put the Nikon Z50 camera onto the telescope, using my 3D printed 2" prime focus adapter into the Explore Scientific Coma Corrector.

Hooked up the laptop to the scope mount and the camera.

Opened up SharpCap and AstroPhotographyTool, and opened the relevant connections to the camera and the scope.

Using the SharpCap alignment tool and dialled in the Azimuth and Declination and got it until Polar Alignment was displaying 'Excellent' on SharpCap.

I had a look at the stars I could see using Stellarium app on my mobile, and then did a 1 star alignment using the star Castor.

I then found an area of sky with a lot of visible stars and did a focus on the scope adjuster, then dialled in the coma corrector and took sample photos using the camera to check.

Now, it was time to hunt down targets.

The alignment of the scope was pretty close, and didn't take much to centralise any object I was trying to capture.

I managed to get numerous random star shots, but when it came to seep space I had winners with M1 Crab Nebula, M81 Bode's Galaxy and M82 Cigar Galaxy.

After setting up APT to take to numerous frames of each on, it was now around midnight, so I hauled everything back inside for the night as the camera battery was flat.

I only have 1 battery for the camera, and trying to get hold of a second, and also a dummy battery that allows you to plug in the camera to a permanent supply. Maybe once the lock downs over!

Next morning, I did some stacking using SharpCap and post processing in GIMP. and the results are;

M81 Bode's Galaxy and M82 Cigar Galaxy

This one I wasn't really looking at M81, as I thought at first it was just a blurry star on the edge of the shot, it wasn't until I stacked the images and started to see the detail did I realise what it was.

Grabbed the pair of them from the main stack used to do M82.

M81 Bode's Galaxy (left) and M82 Cigar Galaxy (right)
M81 Bode's Galaxy (left) and M82 Cigar Galaxy (right)

M82 Cigar Galaxy

When this appeared on the screen, and took the first image, I was surprised that the colour was already just popping out, without any real processing. Set up this for around 175 15 Second exposures.

M82 Cigar Galaxy
M82 Cigar Galaxy

M1 Crab Nebula

This was the first target I went to, despite getting it into frame, didn't really managed to get any colour depth out of it.

M1 Crab Nebula
M1 Crab Nebula

So, there we haven't first galaxies in the bag.

Will definitely be revisiting these in the future, especially once I have more battery power for the camera! To get really long exposures, probably need to think about some auto-guider in the future.