M81 and M82 Galaxies in Ursa Major - Posted March 4, 2006
This striking pair of galaxies can be found about 10 degrees off the tip of the Big Dippers bowl. They present a nice duo both visually and photographically in telescopes providing an adequate field of view, like the Tak FC-60. M81 is called the Cigar galaxy and M82 is often referred to as Bode's Galaxy or Bode's Nebula after it's discoverer, German astronomer Johann Bode. They are about 12 million light years away. M81 is actually being disturbed by the gravitational force of it's larger neighbor and a large amount of new star formation is taking place in it's center as a result.
Processing for this image consisted of reducing with darks and flats, aligning and combining in CCDSoft, DDP in Images Plus, levels, curves and selective unsharp mask in Photoshop. I also used Noel Carboni's Photoshop actions to create the appearance of some faint diffraction spikes around a few of the largest and brightest stars.