Old and new, Bode’s Galaxy

A rare clear Sunday night, coupled with an even rarer Monday off gave me the opportunity to image M81, in the Constellation Ursa Major, also called Bode’s galaxy after Johann Elert Bode who discovered it in 1774. It is a grand design spiral galaxy about 12 million LY’s away, with a diameter of about 90,000 LY’s. I have imaged this object with a 10 inch Newtonian telescope and a DSLR back in 2016.

Ursa Major
Ursa Major

I imaged it last night through my 8 inch RC and the asi1600mm Pro monochrome camera using a Neodymium filter thats cuts out UV, and reduces star bloating. I captured 26 x 300 second exposures and processed them through Deepsky Stacker and Photoshop.

M81, Neodymium filter
M81, Neodymium filter

I then combined this image with the one from 2016 to produce a clearer colour image.

M81 combined image from 2016 and 2020
M81, combined image from 2016 and 2020

The Rosette nebula is now too low down now to image it until later in the year when it comes back round again, however the galaxy imaging season is here.

The Corona virus ( COVID 19 ) has finally had an effect on the astronomy community, the monthly meetings held by the Somerset Levels Stargazers has been cancelled until further notice, this is understandable as quite a large percentage of the members are of the older age group, I have no doubts that the meeting for the Crewkerne and district Astronomical Society will have a similar announcement  very shortly. On a positive note the cancellation of so many international flights can only have a positive effect on climate change and hopefully produce some clear night skies.

4 thoughts on “Old and new, Bode’s Galaxy”

  1. That combined image with colour really is quite a stunning image, Will.

    Is the neodymium filter the only one you used or did you have any other filter in place when you took this galaxy?

    I have been using a dual band light pollution filter which greatly enhances my sky contrast here in Bortle 5 suburbia. I’m interested in the neodymium but not sure how it would go if used instead of the dual band filter or even in conjunction with it.

    Like you, my local Society cancelled it’s meeting last night and seems unlikely to meet again this year. I’m trying not to be negative about losing these precious events, because it is what it is – but nevertheless it is sad, because professional astronomers are such good speakers. However, as I have been in self-imposed isolation for a month, I would not be going anyway.


    1. Hi Roger
      The Baader 2inch Neodymium filter was all I used, it’s similar to an L filter that cuts UV/IR making stars tighter, it has the added bonus of being a contrast enhancement filter and UV/IR blocker, it’s also called a Moon and Skyglow filter as it cuts out some portion of the Sodium vapour light pollution too.
      Follow this for more info on the filter. https://www.baader-planetarium.com/en/baader-neodymium-(moon-and-skyglow)-filter.html.

      I used the mono image as a Luminance layer and the older DSLR image for the colour, just had to resize and stretch/rotate the Mono image till it matched the DSLR image exactly in Photoshop.

      Just been informed that the Crewkerne Astro Society has cancelled it’s meeting for the moment, better safe than sorry, unfortunatly I drive HGV’s for a living, can’t work from home so can’t self isolate until I get the rudy thing lol.


  2. Another great blog Will. Glad you managed to catch Bode! Cracking combination of images. Lack of aircraft also ‘bodes’ well for clearer skies.
    CADAS has abandoned their March meeting and probably many more to come. How these groups will restart after such a long break is an interesting question. Stay safe you two!


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